Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

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Prohibitory Act of the British Parliament -- 1775

This is the British Act which started the Revolutionary War. The two Legislative bodies should have known better than to react in haste, but the British Parliament in London and its opponent the Continental Congress in Philadelphia -- started a Revolutionary War. Apparently Lord North issued a Prohibitory Act and John Adams responded to it, but the real hotheads were Charles Townsend and William Bradford. Everybody involved thought Independence was an improbable outcome.

As usual, invisible laymen did the legwork for events politicians took credit for. As if taking credit for starting a war is something you want. Charles Townshend and William Bradford are not fully known for stirring up the Revolutionary War, one at a mansion in Britain, and the other at the London Coffeehouse in Philadelphia. Mostly forgotten, Lord North of the Admiralty and John Adams of Massachusetts must get credit for getting the fearsome Prohititory Act of Parliament written, and then answering with defiance and warlike privateering--it was just what they both were looking for. Admiral Howe was dispatched to put the colonists in their place, and Adams knew the privateers were ready to sink British ships. In fact, privateers eventually caused more deaths among the British than soldiers were killed, so the New Englander knew what he was doing. And Great Britain eventually lost the war, so maybe North didn't.

In any event, the pacifist Quakers put up too little opposition for a conflict the British had clearly started. And the legal pretext was that armed rebels' choice was to switch from "Taxation without Representation", which was the slogan for Lexington and Concord, to "Independence" which carried a lesser punishment far into the future. Opposition to war is quickly undermined when the enemy has attacked you. The greater miscalculation was to think George Washington didn't have a chance against the fiercest war machine in the world. Adams knew 3000 miles of ocean were on his side. And he knew that even the Quakers could see that hanging for treason was worse punishment than negotiating a treaty between two nations about boundaries. Adams was one of the few lawyers in America, but he immediately saw this distinction and how to exploit it. Besides, he probably was a little bit crazy, himself. North only made one mistake, to lose the war, but how could he anticipate that?

THE ENGLISH SETTLEMENTS 1619-1776

At first, the British Empire wasn't even British, it was English. English history, English religion, English unification, even English court intrigue, and gossip. When Sir Francis Drake brought home the Spanish gold, it was welcome enough, but it was just part of the English Revolution, on its way to becoming the British Empire. English settlers were just a curiosity, like the "Indians" they brought home. England was Ben Franklin's idea of home, left behind by his prosperous family because of largely religious quarrels. The silk-dye Franklins, by the way, had to start over at the bottom in Boston because Cotton Mather's crowd wouldn't accept their money, or see their side of an English religious quarrel. England was, in fact, everybody's home, intellectually, although that was fast coming to an end. Because of the plague and the fire, lots of things were coming to an end, and lots of other things were just starting. For now, the important thing was they were people of former substance, wide acquaintance, and thoroughly English. Whiggish and out of favor perhaps, but not seriously in rebellion.

When they got to America, the whole Franklin family was rambunctious and supported itself with sister Jane's invention of bar soap, her father's candle-making shop, and brother James' printer shop. They got in trouble somewhat with a straight-laced community, but most of their troubles would be called "scrapes" and "quarrels" of a family trying to re-establish itself in new circumstances. When he got to Philadelphia, Benjamin repeated the performance. Arriving at a strange town as a penniless teenager, he turned a print-shop into a chain of newspapers and was ready to retire to his hobbies and politics at the age of 42. Along the way, he learned to keep his mouth shut, selectively.

Franklin was not an aristocrat, but there were scarcely any aristocrats who did not seek him out. In spite of writing one of the most famous autobiographies in America, few people could be certain of his religion, his marital status, his politics. He was definitely not a Quaker, but for a while, he led the Quaker faction. He never went past the second grade, but would have won a Nobel prize if there had been such a thing, and financed his own research. He spent eighteen years living in London, inventing a musical instrument which pleased Mozart, and regularly visited Parliament. When the King's Saint Paul Cathedral was struck by lightning, the King sought his advice. When King George III rejected this advice, the personal quarrel turned him into a personal enemy of the King. As a consequence of a forty-minute public tongue-lashing by Lord Wedderburn at the King's request, he finally turned rebel, joined the Continental Congress, and eventually helped write the American Constitution. At the Albany Conference of 1754, he had proposed a Union of the Thirteen Colonies and lived to see it a reality in 1789, although it was an independent America, not a British colony. But in spite of that, it took a personal confrontation with King George III to convince him Independence was a good idea. In spite of his greatly praised autobiography, no one suspected it of him. No one seems to have known.

Two Hotheads May Have Destroyed an Empire

{King George III}
King George III

Combatants in a war often personalize the enemy in a single person. In 1776 the American colonists blamed it all on King George III. The British might have picked Sam Adams or Thomas Paine. Things are of course always vastly complicated in the affairs of great nations. Economics and national power are strong forces, like culture, religion, and the accidents of geography and history. But when matters teeter on the edge of a cliff, insignificant pests can occasionally start an avalanche.

Charles Townshend

Consider first Charles Townshend, the Chancellor of England's exchequer in 1768. Townshend didn't particularly want the job, hoping instead for the Admiralty. None of the political power brokers particularly wanted to give him the job, but ultimately regarded it as the place he could do the least harm. He had no less an advisor than Adam Smith, who was the tutor of his son, but Smith's letters to him are so servile that it seems unlikely he would urge free trade to such a headstrong merchantilist employer. It is intriguing to speculate this strange association might have sharpened Smith's opinions in the Wealth of Nations which first appeared in 1776./p>

{William Bradford}
William Bradford

Townshend had been a problem all his life. His mother was brilliant, and notoriously promiscuous. He and his father exchanged 2000-word letters explaining to each other how the other was completely wrong. Charles was witty, eloquent and charming when he wanted to be, and he married an enormously wealthy woman. After that, his family had no hold on him, and they rarely spoke to each other. The same charm plus arrogance can be perversely effective in politics, so other politicians often just had to put up with him. But as politicians do, they roasted him in their letters and private conversations. His political opponent, Edmund Burke, was perhaps a gentle critic when he observed, "His actions... seem never to have been influenced by his most wonderful abilities." Opponents, of course, welcome deficiencies in their enemies, while exasperated political allies can be the most scathing about team members who injure the party with misbehavior. Adam Smith referred to his employer as someone "who passes for the cleverest fellow in England." Chase Price described him as "utterly unhinged". Horace Walpole: "nothing is luminous compared with Charles Townshend: he drops down dead in a fit, has a resurrection, thunders in the Capitol, confounds the Treasury bench, laughs at his own party, is laid up the next day, and overwhelms the Duchess [of Argyll, his mother-in-law] and the good women that go to nurse him!" The final assessment of his biographer Sir Lewis Namier was "...illustrations of Charles Townshend's character can be picked out anywhere during his adult life. He did not change or mellow; nor did he learn by experience; there was something ageless about him; never young, he remained immature to the end."

What matters for contemporary American readers is Townshend's 14-year grievance against American legislatures which seem to have originated when he discovered the New York Legislature in 1754 up to its old tricks of refusing to provide funds for Royal initiatives it did not like. At the time, he was in his first public office, the Board of Trade and Plantations, and had written some highly arrogant orders to New York, making many high-handed and disdainful public asides to his friends, including his wish to have the Assembly cut out of appropriations except for token approval of them. He was young, so his wiser party colleagues simply deflected him. But by 1767 he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, a brilliant speaker, and no doubt had collected many political chits to be cashed in. The Townshend Taxes were enacted, his underlying personal grievances were well known, the colonial assemblies could see it meant big trouble.

Although almost no one could match Townshend for bizarre behavior, in Philadelphia at Front and Market Streets, there was another difficult personality, named William Bradford. As a printer and newspaper publisher, Bradford must have been a person of some note in a town of thirty thousand, but it is difficult to find a portrayal of him, and notes about his personal life are comparatively skimpy. We do know that he was a member of a family of newspaper printers, including grandfather, uncle, and son, all of whom had experienced official prosecution for defiance of government. His grandfather, also named William Bradford, is said to have had Quaker affiliation, but it is not particularly prominent in accounts of him, while almost no mention of Quaker affiliation is made of the rest of the family. Grandfather William had a notable apprentice named John Peter Zenger, who was prosecuted for libel against the Royal Governor of New York, defended in a famous trial by the Philadelphia Lawyer Andrew Hamilton, who established the principle that what is the truth is not a libel. We can rather safely presume that the younger William Bradford had grown up in an environment of hostility to authority, aggravated but not necessarily caused by some rather plain persecutions by authority. It may even have been specific hostility to British authority, since in 1754 young Bradford began publication of a specifically anti-British paper, The Weekly Advertiser. It is interesting to note that its principle competitor was a pro-British paper printed by Ben Franklin. Somewhere along the line, Bradford became head of the Sons of Liberty, clearly marking him as strongly anti-British, probably well before the Townshend Acts.

Bradford established the London Coffee House at Front and Market Streets in Philadelphia. That might seem a strange sideline for a printer, until you reflect that the location was right beside the waterfront, especially the Arch Street warf. Newspapers in those days almost never had professional reporters, depending for their content on gossip from visiting ships. A coffee shop near the waterfront would be an excellent place to hear the maritime news of the world, and possibly hear it sooner than competitors. The London Coffee House provided a place for bargaining and trade; the Maritime Exchange got its start there. It may or may not be significant that a main activity of the Exchange was to buy and sell slaves. It is sure that the Navigation Acts and the Townshend taxes on various imports were a central topic of angry discussion in a waterfront Coffee House from 1768 to 1776. Thus it is possible that Bradford was caught up in the excited opinions of his customers, but plenty of evidence of anti-British sentiment exists in his background to suppose he nursed a long-standing prejudice against the British government. Our most authoritative account of the events appeared in the Pennsylvania Packet of January 3, 1774, but the beginnings of the story were better related in the Pennsylvania Mercury of October 1, 1791, shortly after Bradford's death.

"After the Tax on Tea imported into America was reduced to 3d. per pound by the British Parliament, there appeared to be a general disposition in the colonies to pay it. In this critical situation of the Liberties of America, Mr. Bradford stopped two or three citizens of Philadelphia, who happened to be walking by the door of his house on Front-street, and stated to them the danger to which our country was exposed, by receiving, and paying the tax on, the tea. Many difficulties startled the gentlemen, to whom he spoke, in the face...; and it was particularly mentioned that the citizens of Philadelphia were tired out with town and committee meetings, and that it would be impossible to collect a sufficient number of them together, to make an opposition to the tea respectable and formidable. 'Leave that business to me(said Mr. Bradford),--I'll collect a town meeting for you--Prepare some resolves;--and,--they shall be executed.' The next evening he collected a few of such citizens who were heartily opposed to the usurpations of the British Parliament, who drew up some spirited resolutions to reject the dutied tea, and to send back the tea ship. These resolutions were adopted the Saturday following (October 16, 1773), by a large and respectable town meeting at which the late Dr. Thomas Cadwalader (a decided Whig) presided. The same resolutions were immediately afterwards (November 5, 1773) adopted, nearly word for word, by a town meeting in Boston, where a disposition to receive the tea had become general, from an idea that opposition to it would not be seconded or supported by any of the other colonies. The events (December 16, 1773) which followed the adoption of these resolutions in the town of Boston are well known. However great the merit and sufferings of that town were in the beginning of the war, it is a singular fact, and well worthy of record in the history of the events which produced the American Revolution, the First act in that great business originated in Philadelphia, and that the First scene in it originated with Mr. William Bradford."

Written within a few days of the events, the January 3, 1774 Pennsylvania Packet is more detailed. In particular, the grievance is stated to be "...the pernicious project of the East India Company, in sending Tea to America, while it remains subject to a duty, and the Americans at the same time confined by the strongest prohibitory laws to import it only from Great Britain." While it is not easy to find a quotation capsulizing the British response, it would be something to the effect that the Tea Act was in fact a face-saving gesture which reduced the price of tea for the colonists, and was received as such by most of them, until smugglers of Dutch tea now faced the same surplus of unsold tea which had nearly bankrupted the East India Company after the colonies resorted to non-importation. Both arguments contain a certain amount of spin, but side-by-side, they contained sufficient reasonableness to permit peaceful resolution. To go on with the details:

"Upon the first advice of this measure, a general dissatisfaction was expressed, that, at a time when we were struggling with this oppressive act, and an agreement subsisting not to import Tea while subject to the duty, our subjects in England should form a measure so directly tending to enforce the act and again embroil us with our parent state. When it was also considered that the proposed mode of disposing of the Tea tended to a monopoly, ever odious in a free country, a universal disapprobation showed itself throughout the city. A public meeting of the inhabitants was held at the State-House on the [16]th October, at which great numbers attended, and the sense of the city was expressed in [the following] eight resolves:"

which we will divide into three sections for commentary. Resolves 1,2, and 5 can be said to be a protest against the Tea Act. While the language is a little high-flown, such a protest would be considered a normal exercise of free speech:

"1. That the disposal of their own property is the inherent right of freemen;that there can be no property in that which another man can, of right, take from us without our consent: that the claim of Parliament to tax America is, in other words, a claim of right to levy contributions on us at pleasure. "2. That the duty imposed by Parliament upon Tea landed in America is a tax on the Americans, or levying contributions upon them without their consent. "5. That the resolution lately enered into by the East India Company to send out their Tea to America , subject the payment of duties on its being landed here, is an open attempt to inforce this ministerial plan, and a violent attack upon the liberties of America."

Resolutions 3. and 4. are accusations of a deeper plot. The colonists do not want to be taxed by the British Government directly, but prefer to tax themselves so that final payment to colonial officials must pass through colonial control. Unspoken, of course, is the creation of an ability to thwart implementation of unwelcome directives from London:

"3. That the express purpose for which the tax is levyed on the Americans, namely for the support of government, administration of justice, and defence of his Majesty's dominions in America, has a direct tendency to render Assemblies useless, and to introduce arbitrary government and slavery. "4. That a virtuous and steady opposition to this ministerial plan of governing America is absolutely necessary to preserve even the shadow of liberty, and is a duty which every freeman in America owes to his country, to himself, and to his posterity."

Finally, in the tradition of the writing of resolutions, come the so-called Resolves, the solution to the problem which you wish your audience to agree to. These concrete actions are found in resolutions 6, 7, and 8. The British could be expected to be offended, since the Resolves do not acknowledge the right of Parliament to impose the tax, or humbly petition that they reconsider. Rather, they assume the role of sovereign government themselves, effectively declaring the colonies would punish anyone who obeyed the Law, would coerce those who are charged by Parliament to implement the Law, and would cause those appointed by Parliament to do this work, to resign or else the peace would be disturbed by colonial enforcement of these 'suggestions':

"6. That it is the duty of every American to oppose this attempt. "7. That whoever shall, directly or indirectly, countenance this attempt, or in any wise aid or abet in the unloading,receiving and vending the Tea sent, or to be sent out by the East India Company, while it remains subject to the payment of the duty here, is an enemy to his country. "8. That a Committee be immediately chosen to wait on these gentlemen, who, it is reported , are appointed by the East India Company to receive and sell said Tea, and request them, from a regard to their own character, and the peace and good order of the city and province, immediately to resign. "

The thinly-veiled threats contained in these resolutions against anyone who disagreed were soon made more explicit when the tea ship actually arrived at the mouth of the Delaware around December 23, 1773, by public posters to the Delaware River pilots and Captain Ayers of the incoming Tea ship, signed by THE COMMITTEE FOR TARRING AND FEATHERING. Cards were printed up for the public to distribute around the premises of James and Drinker, telling them to resign as sales agents for the Tea by writing a note, to be delivered to the London Coffee House -- William Bradford's place of business. A few shouts and the waving of a few torches would have been sufficient to indicate that the alternative was arson.

A month elapsed between the proclamation of the Philadelphia resolutions and the actual arrival of Captain Ayers in our harbor. Another tea ship had arrived at Boston in the meantime on December 16,1773. The Boston citizens had dressed themselves as Indians, and dumped the Boston Tea consignment into the harbor, proclaiming the same eight Philadelphia-written resolutions. But in Philadelphia, violence proved unnecessary. James and Drinker resigned their appointments as sales agents, the pilots were ready enough to impede passage, and Captain Ayers on December 27, 1773 meekly sailed his cargo of Tea back where it came from.

William Allen, Tory

William Allen

William Allen was once famous for his expensive carriage and a team of horses, at a time when there were only eighty carriages in the colony. He was born wealthy but personally made considerable sums in maritime trade, which in those days included a mild form of piracy called privateering. Taking his accumulated wealth, he invested heavily in colonial real estate. His urban ventures included the land under Independence Hall, and his lands in the hinterland included the present town of Easton. He was a tough businessman, providing "muscle" where needed in a colony dominated by pacifist Quakers. At one point, he imported a thousand muskets and ammunition for the use of settlers in the Lehigh Valley who had difficulties with the Indians and Connecticut invaders. Allentown is named after him.

Philadelphia Lawyer

It is difficult to apply present standards of judgment to Allen. William Penn had been given the colony on condition that he protect and maintain it. That was clearly a difficult challenge for a Quaker colony in the wilderness, surrounded by Indians, French and Spanish buccaneers, and neighboring colonies who were far from pacifist themselves. The system often amounted to giving land to subcontractors like Allen, on condition that they maintain law and order. Furthermore, Allen was quite obviously a person of parts. His credentials as Chief Justice were based on his attendance at the Inns of Court when almost all other lawyers were trained by local apprenticeships. His father in law was Andrew Hamilton, the famous "Philadelphia lawyer" who won the landmark case for Peter Zenger and later became the leader of the Pennsylvania Assembly and mentor to young Benjamin Franklin. His land-dispute services in the negotiations with Lord Baltimore were notable. In general, he was a continuing force for peace and stability, and no one held it against him that peace and stability suited his needs as a landlord and merchant. To him, the battle for independence was just another unsettling disturbance which prevented the colony from achieving its potential.

His daughter married John Penn, the grandson of William Penn, who was the local representative of the Proprietors and later the Governor. All in all, it is not surprising that he retreated to his home on Germantown Avenue, called Mt. Airy, when the revolution broke out. Unlike many other Tories who fled to Canada, he felt his past services would protect him if he remained quiet and secluded until the war was over. He didn't quite make it, dying in his mansion, in 1780.

Federal Reserve: Monetary Causes of the American Revolutionary War

{Privateers}
Milton Friedman
The Father of Monetarism

Milton Friedman won the 1976 Nobel Prize in Economics (more accurately, the Bank of Sweden Prize in Memory of Alfred Nobel), for generating controversial ideas made even more annoying to his professional adversaries by his matchless knack for attaching memorable slogans to them. A phrase in question is that "Inflation, always and everywhere, is a monetary phenomenon." Turned around, the converse emerges that the great deflation and depression of the 1930s was caused by a global monetary shortage. Then, to extend the same idea to the American Revolution, it could fairly be argued that inept British contraction of colonial coinage had a lot to do with provoking us to seek independence.

{French & Indian War}
French & Indian War

Following the French and Indian War, the colonies experienced a major commodity depression which seems to have been caused by wartime shortages followed by post-war surpluses (associated with failure to adjust to the resulting financial confusion). In Milton Friedman's theory, it is the task of any government to maintain stable prices by balancing the amount of currency in circulation with the size of the gross national product. In 1770, the British Exchequer would thus have had to expand and contract the amount of currency in circulation pretty rapidly to maintain economic stability in the bumpy Colonial economy. Essentially, they had to ride a bucking broncho three thousand miles away. In the Eighteenth Century, there was no trace of understanding of the issues involved. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations was only published in the fateful year of 1776, for example. Even if the techniques for maintaining stable prices had been crystal clear, there was a thirty-day lag in communication across the Ocean, and comparable lags between the colonies, where different imports and exports were affected at varying times. So it is a little harsh to blame the British for the chaotic result, except to notice that strongly centralized, the trans-Atlantic government was by nature unsuitable for managing rapidly-changing problems, currency and otherwise. The British government had more than a century of experience that should have made that clear. That's what the colonists said, in effect, and their solution for it was Independence.

{George III}
George III

If you believe Friedman, a shortage of coinage causes a fall in prices or deflation. To correct that, you need a central banker constantly fine-tuning the currency. But banking in the colonies was too rudimentary to consider such a thing. If you needed a mortgage, you went to a prosperous neighbor and borrowed directly from him. That was fine because prosperous colonists had limited opportunities to invest their money conveniently, except by loaning money to their neighbors. Indeed, local communities were knit together socially by the mutual assistance of successful farmers directly assisting their less fortunate neighbors. However, pioneer farming

{Depression-era Farm Family}
Depression-era Farm Family

communities are far too unsophisticated to remain tranquil when problems arise out of abstractions. Suddenly and without apparent explanation, in 1770 there was no money for anybody to use, and the fellow with a mortgage on his farm couldn't make his payments even though he was otherwise entirely successful. His creditor himself than couldn't pay his own bills, and eventually, even the kindliest ones were driven to foreclose the mortgage. It was said to be common for a farm worth $5000 to be sold to satisfy a mortgage of $100. And in this way, many honest and once-prospering farmers were forced to walk past their old home, now owned and occupied by a formerly friendly neighbor. It all seemed bitterly unfair, no one understood what was happening, evil motives were readily suspected, and old religious and personal grievances were heightened. When the British finally imposed a total ban on paper money as well as a prohibition of the export of British coinage outside the United Kingdom, things became almost impossible to manage. Almost no one knew exactly what was going on, but everyone could see it was bad. The colonies rapidly deteriorated toward class warfare, which is what the division between Tories and Rebels was soon to become, with both sides quite rightly asserting they were not responsible, and quite wrongly asserting the other must be.

From a far distance, it can be readily perceived the primitive banking and transportation systems of that time were inadequate to respond to the rapidly changing financial problems of a global empire; and it can be readily surmised that many other non-financial issues of governance were similarly hampered by attempting to centralize control over vast distances. In that sense, the colonists were approximately correct in directing their indignation to the person of King George III, whose mother was constantly nagging him to "be a real King". He had the particular misfortune to be dealing with Englishmen, deeply aware of the hidden political agenda made possible in the 13th Century by the Magna Charta and made explicit in 1307, when Edward I agreed not to collect certain taxes without the consent of the realm. Essentially, Parliament placed taxation in the hands of the people, who consistently withheld consent until the king gave them just a little more liberty. This was the reason irksome micromanagement of the distant colonies was immediately countered with the cry of "No taxation without Representation" since membership in the House of Commons was a traditional and historically effective means to the end. But it was getting late for this solution. Maritime New England now wanted to go further than that in order to dominate Western Atlantic trade. Virginia and the rest of the South wanted to go all the way to Independence in order to exploit the vast empty interior wilderness of Ohio and beyond. But the Quaker colonies in the middle felt quite sympathetic with John Dickinson's advice to remain part of the Empire and make a stand for representation in Parliament. When the Lord Howe's British fleet appeared in lower New York harbor an immediate choice had to be made, and ultimately the Quaker colonies were swayed by Benjamin Franklin's embittered report of his mistreatment in Parliament, and his assessment that he could persuade the French to help us. However reluctant they were to resort to force, the Quaker colonies had to choose, and choose immediately: either flee as Tories to Canada, or stand and fight.

Franklin: Upstart Hero of King George's War (1747)

In 1747, Benjamin Franklin had a life-transforming experience, acting quite unlike his character before, or later. At that time, Old Europe was engaged in some distant tribal skirmishing which has come to be known as King George's War. King George II, that is, under whose rule Franklin in 1751 inscribed on the cornerstone of the Pennsylvania Hospital that Pennsylvania was flourishing, "for he sought the happiness of his people."

{http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/cornerstone2.gif}
The cornerstone of the
Pennsylvania Hospital inscribed by Franklin.

Those distant commotions suddenly developed a harsh reality for the little pacifist sanctuaries on the Delaware River, when French and Spanish privateers suddenly raided and destroyed settlements on Delaware Bay. The Quaker Assemblies and their absentee Proprietor merely dithered and huddled in the face of what impended as a totally unexpected threat of annihilation of the pacifist colonies. It probably only seemed natural for the owner of the largest newspaper in the colony to publish a pamphlet called "Plain Truth," urging the inhabitants to rally to their own defense, and pressure their government to lead them. The Quaker leaders were in fact unable to readjust a lifetime of pacifist belief in a few days of an emergency, and the English Proprietor, then Thomas Penn, was far too remote to take active charge of matters. So, Franklin gave speeches, also an unfamiliar role for him, and finally brought out a detailed proposal for the creation of a Pennsylvania Militia. Ten thousand volunteers promptly signed up, elected Franklin as their Colonel; but he declined, and served as a common soldier.

{http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/franklin_uniform.jpg}
Benjamin Franklin in 1767.

Against naval attack, the Militia needed cannon, which did not exist in the colony. So Franklin organized a lottery, raised three thousand pounds, and tried to buy cannon from Governor Clinton of New York. New York declined to sell, and so Franklin led a delegation to New York to negotiate. The negotiations largely consisted of getting Governor Clinton drunk and convivial, but they were successful, the artillery was shipped off to Philadelphia. Although they were undoubtedly grateful to Franklin for saving the day, this entirely extra-legal recruitment of an army badly rattled the Quakers and their Proprietor, since it demonstrated the ineffectiveness of their governance at a time of obvious crisis, and might ultimately have led to their overthrow. Franklin's heroic behavior seemed so threatening to Thomas Penn that he described him as "a dangerous man," acting like "the Tribune of the People."

When the underlying commotion in Old Europe subsided, the threat to the colonies disappeared, so the Militia disbanded in a year. Franklin seemed to be just as uncomfortable with his unaccustomed role as the governing leaders were, and he hardly ever mentioned it again. However, this is the sort of reflex leadership that makes political careers, and it surely influenced his decision to retire from business in 1748, run for election to the Assembly, and live like a gentleman. Seven years later, during the French and Indian War, he had become the chosen leader of the Pennsylvania Assembly, had much longer to think through what he was doing, and had learned how to organize a war. By that time, as the saying goes, he knew who he was. He was a man whose silent memories could flashback to that time when a bald fat printer stepped out of the crowd, saying "Follow me," and ten thousand men with muskets did so.

Franklin was a hero to every man in Philadelphia, except one. That was Thomas Penn, who thought to himself, "That man is dangerous."

Greenwich, Where?

{Greenwich NJ}
Greenwich NJ

If you sail north up the Delaware Bay, you would go past Rehoboth, Lewes, Dover, New Castle, Wilmington -- on the left, or Delaware side. On the right, or New Jersey side, it's a long way from Cape May to Salem, the first town of any consequence. That is, the Jersey side of the riverbank is still comparatively uninhabited. When the first settlers came along, with vast areas to choose among, it might have seemed attractive to settle on the Delaware side, because the peninsular nature of what is now called Delmarva (Del-Mar-Va) would provide land access to two large navigable bays, the Delaware, and the Chesapeake. To go all the way up the Delaware to what is now Pennsylvania would give trading access to a whole continent, so that eventually proved to be where immigration was headed. But as a matter of fact, the marshy Jersey shore seemed more attractive for settlement by the earlier settlers.

A settler has to think about starving the first year or two, because trees have to be cut down, and stumps pulled up before the land can even be plowed. After that, comes planting and growing, then finally harvesting. Trees, behind which Indians can hide, are a bad thing all around in the eyes of a settler. The flat swampy meadows of the Jersey bank were just exactly what the Dutch knew how to manage. Dam up the creeks and drain the ground, and you will soon have lots of lands ready for the plow, without any confounded trees. By the end of the seventeenth century, the English who had made the mistake of settling in rocky Connecticut finally saw what the Dutch were able to do, and came down to take it away from them.

{Greenwich scenery}
Greenwich scenery

That's why there is a Salem, New Jersey, and also a Greenwich, New Jersey. Greenwich ( around here they pronounce it green-witch) had 870 residents at the last census. It is one of the cutest little colonial villages you are likely to encounter. The local historians refer to it as an unreconstructed Williamsburg, drawing prideful attention to the fact that these houses were really built in the colonial period, and are in no way imitation reconstructions. The isolated charm of this place is in large part due to being surrounded by a maze of wandering creeks, so visitors by land travel don't get there in time for lunch unless they take great care to follow a local road map. If you arrive by water, it's no problem; just navigate up the crooked and twisting Cohansey River.

Although pioneer settlement was much earlier, the oldest house still standing in that rather damp area was built in 1730. Things are pretty much the way they were before the American Revolution because the Calvinists who settled here were not prepared for the Jersey mosquito, which obviously is abundant in such a marshy area. With the mosquito comes relapsing (Vivax, malaria, black water (Falciparum) malaria, and Dengue Fever (graphically known locally as break-bone fever). As a matter of fact, encephalitis is also mosquito-borne. When you don't understand the insect carrier situation, survival in such an environment depends on local fables and lore, like going to the mountains for the summer after the planting season, and only returning at harvest time. That sounds to a New Englander newcomer like a superstitious cloak for lazy living, especially since masses of fish come up the river in teeming waves, looking for mosquitoes to eat. So, Greenwich is charming, but it never was thriving.

Working hard to find something to say about the town, it would appear that Paul Revere himself came riding into Greenwich in December 1774, urging the town to join their Boston relatives in the destruction of tea belonging to the British East India Company. Greenwich accordingly had a public tea burning on December 22. Since the more notorious Boston tea party took place on December 16, 1773, and the British Tea Act was passed in May, 1773, it is not exactly accurate to say the rebellion spread like wildfire. One has to suppose that the inflammatory tale told to the local farmers by Paul Revere was likely a little enhanced, since a careful recounting of the events in Boston suggests a number of ways the uproar might have been avoided if Samuel Adams and his friends had been less provocative. Or if Massachusetts Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson had been less flighty. Or for that matter, if Benjamin Franklin had restrained himself when he got hold of Hutchinson's letters at a critical moment when he was in London. In retrospect, the best model for behavior was provided by the Royal Navy; the whole Boston Tea Party was surrounded by armed British naval vessels, who did not lift a finger throughout the demonstration.

Anyway, little Greenwich had its minute of fame with a tea burning. Otherwise, it has had a very quiet existence for three centuries. The point behind bringing it up is to emphasize that New England was at least two years ahead of the Quaker states in rebellion against England, and needed to stir those pacifists up.


REFERENCES


Paul Revere & The World He Lived In Amazon

The Economic Power of Laws

{William Penn Treaty}
William Penn Treaty

Philadelphia is tucked down in the Southeast corner of Pennsylvania, right next to Delaware and New Jersey. All three states once belonged to William Penn and started out Quaker dominated. In time, they settled down to a life of independent states, and with the growth of population plus speed of transportation, they are all getting smudged together again. The Quaker influence is there if you look for it, and rather fierce, even hostile, political competition between the states is there, too. But if you were a foreign visitor who doesn't look at maps, you could drive around the metropolitan area without knowing which state you were in. To a large extent, the Rand-McNally lines are a hindrance to commerce and convenience, but they have their value. The quirks of political jurisdiction give the Philadelphia metropolitan area six U.S. senators, and the opportunity to take shrewd advantage of the three legal systems. You can buy things without a sales tax in Delaware, and estate tax lawyers tell me that if you must die, die in Delaware. At one time, New Jersey was a great place to get an uncontested divorce, Pennsylvania a better place to start an unincorporated business. More recently, the New Jersey doctors are complaining that malpractice rates are unbearable, but they are not as bad as they are in Pennsylvania, and it is rapidly becoming true that if you are going to be born, you will need to be born in New Jersey because the obstetricians have all moved there. That's also true in the District of Columbia; obstetrics has just about entirely fled to Virginia. Better watch out where you have your auto accidents, too. Neurosurgeons and orthopedists have also responded to the local disincentives to live near certain types of juries.

Long ago, James Madison designed things this way on purpose. The main author of our constitution hated taxes and oppressive government as much as any other founding father and argued it was a good thing to let neighboring states have differing laws. Corporations which do interstate business hate the complexity of course, but as Madison argued, people do shift their business, their businesses, and even their residence if the neighboring states become too extreme in their differences. It's still worth a thirty-minute drive to buy silverware and China in Delaware, and if you are driving to the New Jersey shore, you ought to fill up your gas tank on the Jersey side of the bridge. At one time, there was a thriving resort town in the Jersey woods, mostly entertaining people who needed a spell of New Jersey residence to be eligible for New Jersey divorces.

These things respond to local circumstances fairly rapidly. I once met a man from the Delaware Chamber of Commerce who boasted that the Chamber could get a Delaware law changed over a weekend if it had some particular commercial advantage. Governor du Pont saw the bigger advantages of this flexibility and got some laws enacted which drew most of the big credit card companies to Delaware, and at least a branch of all the big national banks. Delaware is starting to emulate Lichtenstein , and fairly successfully.

The effect on Philadelphia banking has been disastrous. Once the banking center of the whole continent, Philadelphia now does not have the headquarters of a single major bank. True, banking is becoming an obsolete industry whose products no one really wants, but the particularly severe effect in Philadelphia comes from the fact that if you were going to have a big bank in the metropolitan area, you would have it in Delaware.

{Delaware Courts}
Delaware Courts

The location of so many corporate headquarters in the little state attracts lots of outside lawyers, of course, and it puts a heavy burden on Delaware Court of Chancery, the court for corporate disputes. The judges are appointed by the governor, and it doesn't take all that much outside money to lean on the governor, so the nation's giant corporations are at the mercy of a very small group of local politicians. The politicians, on the other hand, operate freely in an environment where comparatively few of their constituents have any interest in the goings-on of major corporations from far away.

It's an interesting thing that the legislatures of all three formerly Quaker states are torn with sectional disputes. In Pennsylvania and Delaware, it's the cities against the farmers. In New Jersey, it's the North versus the South. All states are having a hard time balancing their budgets in a recession, but somehow New Jersey has worse deficits than the others, and therefore more quarrels about taxes. The northern politicians dominate the legislature, and the south feels it is often the victim of state laws designed to help the North in its constant war with New York City. Ever since 9/11, the financial district of New York has been sending its subsidiary employees to safer cheaper regions. That might have meant going to New Jersey, but the tax flounderings there have led to many of those relocations going on a few miles to upstate Pennsylvania. You don't ordinarily think of Scranton as a financial center, but take another look. Madison, no doubt, would smile at the tendency, but wrinkle his brow at all the unintended consequences. At least, everyone in the region speaks English more or less, otherwise, the European Common Market could learn a lot from studying our local scene. About fifteen years ago, there was actually an unsuccessful provision on the ballot for South Jersey to secede.

Changing Taxing without Representation into Revolution for Independence: The British Prohibitory Act of 1775

In searching for a criminal, policemen have been trained first to search for a motive -- "Cui bono" is the Latin judicial expression. By all reasoning, New England had the most to gain from starting a war against the British military machine, and the British had most to lose. If either one even briefly considered the possibility of losing the war, these two had most to lose. The New Englanders just had more to gain, as well. The New Englanders got twelve contiguous allies they badly needed and wanted, and even so they barely won. William Bradford was doing all he could to stir up a war at Philadelphia's London Coffeehouse, for reasons of his own. Paul Revere had tried on the Delaware River for a tea war at Greenich New Jersey with better reasoning, and John Adams did his best with persuasive arguments at the Continental Congress six or eight blocks away from Carpenters Hall. The big holdouts were the pacifist Quakers, who didn't think anything was worth a war. All three Mid-Atlantic colonies were Quaker-owned and dominated. Nothing would persuade them to go to war, except being attacked.

It is unclear who figured it out, but the British fell for it. They allowed themselves to be persuaded they could win the war quickly, so George Washington drew it out until the French gave the Brits more to contend with. But who was it who perceived there was a legal difference, dating back to the Treaty of Westphalia, between being hanged for armed rebellion and merely negotiating between two sovereign nations? We don't know, but keeping its originator a secret certainly sounds like Benjamin Franklin, who had been an insider on both sides, had prestige and access to the leadership of both hotheaded sides which had betrayed him, and knew how to keep his mouth shut. In fact, he had suggested a common union at the 1745 Albany Conference. He had a score to settle between both the British and the Quakers. Provoking the British to start hostilities first, accomplished the near-destruction of both of the two groups who had offended him, after first promoting him as a distinguished leader. Even centuries later, we continue to learn that Poor Richard had a second side to him. We may never learn the truth of this bold assertion, but no one could challenge its plausibility. Right now, the British need us more than we need them with Brexit, so corroborating evidence may not be soon forthcoming. There are other strong possibilities; John Adams understood the power of privateers better than Lord North of the Admiralty did, and Admiral Howe was in no position to argue but wavered in his loyalty. Somebody engineered this enormous distraction and understood the British weakness for bravado as well as its American cousin, heedlessness. No one admires old Ben more than I do, but I have to admit to myself that Franklin has the best credentials for this job. Unless the real culprit was just that long monthlong communication gap, with its inherent delegation of authority to people who were not in a position to understand the full consequences of their power.

In any event, the pacifist Quakers whose assent was crucial, put up comparatively little opposition to conflict the British had clearly started. Defending yourself was always a weakness of pacifism, especially if you had led the flock to believe God would somehow defend them. And the legal pretext was that armed rebels' only choice was to switch from "Taxation without Representation" which was the slogan for Lexington and Concord, to "Independence" which carried less punishment. This would seem like no choice at all to the Frontiersmen. Opposition to war was anyway undermined when the enemy attacks you. The great miscalculation was to think George Washington didn't have a chance against the greatest war machine in the world. Also, Adams knew 3000 miles of ocean were on his side. And he knew that even the Quakers could agree that hanging for treason was worse than negotiating a treaty between two nations about boundaries. Adams was one of the few lawyers in America, so he would immediately see this distinction and how to exploit it. Besides, he probably was a little bit crazy, himself. North only made one mistake, losing the war, but how could he anticipate that? The more you go down the list, the more disqualified everyone seems. Except Franklin.

Philadelphia in October, 1774

{http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/viceadams.jpg}
Vice President John Adams

In his diary, John Adams tells of leaving Philadelphia at the conclusion of the First Continental Congress: "28.Friday. Took our departure, in a very great rain, from the happy, the peaceful, the elegant, the hospitable, and polite city of Philadelphia. It is not very likely that I shall ever see this part of the world again, but I shall ever retain a most grateful, pleasing sense of the many civilities I have received in it and shall think myself happy to have an opportunity of returning them. Dined at Anderson's and reached Priestly's of Bristol, at night, twenty miles from Philadelphia, where we are as happy as we can wish."

The Failed Mid-Atlantic Subjugation, 1776-78

It will be a disappointment to my Philadelphia friends to find I have been forced by time to omit the details of their favorite dinner table conversation, the British occupation of Philadelphia and all its wonderful details. But a summary is that Washington lost just about every battle, but won the war of attrition. His job was to keep the Continental Army alive at Valley Forge during the Howe brothers assault, until subordinate Generals in other regions had better but similar luck, for eight years. The French assistance grew, and finally, the greatest war machine in the world just gave up and concentrated on the rest of the earth. America may have been an attractive place to conquer, but it was just too expensive.

The story includes Ben Franklin's social conquest of France, to the point of essentially bankrupting his ally. It includes the skillful British attack on Philadelphia's back door through Delaware, the majestic land victory then defeat, then victory and then defeat of Lord Cornwallis across the waist of New Jersey, the battle of Trenton and return to Washington's cold winter retreat in Morristown. It has all of the juicy details of betrayal by Benedict Arnold and Philadelphia's social elite. And it includes the details of Robert Morris, who was essentially acting President while the politicians fled to York and Lancaster, taking the Liberty Bell along with them. It includes Betsy Ross and the other common folk who survived while they subverted their conquerors. It is a grand story, but there just isn't time to tell it. It might even mention gunpowder smuggling to the battle of Trenton by The Barber of Seville, Beaumarchais the French King's watchmaker. Mozart and Beethoven and Poor Richard's French girlfriends also figure, but there just isn't time to invent a pretext for mentioning them, so we return to the Constitution and how it got to be what it is.

Declaration of Independence: Jefferson's Response to Prohibitory Act

George III seems to have been told that actions speak louder than words, and the Prohibitory Act was not meant to demonstrate a need to conciliate. Jefferson's position was about the same as a young press agent for Congress. He went on and on about why the Colonists were the offended party and were going to put up a fight. It seems very doubtful the King paid any attention to what Jefferson said at such great length.

Caesar Rodney Rides Through the Rain

{Caesar Rodney}
Caesar Rodney

If you have a quarter minted in 1999, you can see a depiction of Caesar Rodney riding through the rain, mud and heat, all night, to cast his July 2 vote for independence at the 1776 Continental Congress. There are no known painted portraits of Rodney, probably because his face was badly mutilated by cancer which ultimately killed him.

On July 1, Thomas McKean and George Read had split Delaware's votes in a tie, and McKean had urgently sent word to Rodney, the absent third vote, that he must come to Philadelphia quickly. Rodney was suffering from cancer. It may thus have been Thomas McKean's idea to invoke the concepts of the Treaty of Westphalia to escape hanging for armed rebellion, but Ben Franklin seems more likely. Once an idea like that gets started in a gathering, it quickly becomes everyone's idea. But Franklin was the only one to stampede a group and take no credit for doing so.

{statue}
Rodney
Admiral Howe was already starting to land his seven hundred ships at Staten Island and Perth Amboy. It would not be difficult for him to travel a hundred miles across New Jersey to Trenton and down the Delaware River -- to hang them all as rebels. But Franklin had traveled that distance many times and had plenty of time to consider its strategic location. Only if they could establish the notion that they were an independent country could they hope to shelter themselves in the rules of war? (Even so, most of them found it prudent to wait a few weeks before signing Jefferson's somewhat specious arguments.) In the background, of course, Benjamin Franklin had a shrewder assessment or possibly even overt threat: the King of France wasn't going to help them unless they severed their allegiance with England.

Schoolchildren in Delaware can be forgiven for asking why Rodney wasn't in Philadelphia for the vote without being sent for. And we don't really know. Rodney certainly had plenty of other things competing for his attention, like being a Supreme Court Justice, the Speaker of the Delaware Assembly and the de facto Governor of the State, as well as being a Brigadier General in the Militia (he later was made Major General in charge of the garrison at Trenton). One has to suspect, however, that he had not expected George Read to vote against independence. Read, after all, had married the widowed sister of George Ross, who did sign the Declaration.

Asthma, a notoriously intermittent condition, may have been a worse impediment to Caesar Rodney's ride than his cancer. Although he was badly disfigured, cancer did not kill him until 1784. The prospect of riding eighty miles in the rain with asthma may well have been the reason Rodney held off until he was absolutely certain his vote was needed. The esteem and affection that Delaware holds for this farmer from Dover can be gauged by the fact that he remained the elected speaker until the day he died, and during his last three months, the legislature held its meetings in his house so he could be present.

The Signers of the Declaration of Independence

{Josiah Bartlett}
Josiah Bartlett
{Matthew Thornton}
Matthew Thornton
{William Whipple}
William Whipple
{John Hancock}
John Hancock
{Elbridge Gerry}
Elbridge Gerry
{Samuel Adams}
Samuel Adams
{Robert Paine}
Robert Paine
{Stephen Hopkins}
Stephen Hopkins
{William Ellery}
William Ellery
{Samuel Huntington}
Samuel Huntington
{William Williams}
William Williams
{Rodger Sherman}
Rodger Sherman
{Lewis Morris}
Lewis Morris
{Francis Lewis}
Francis Lewis
{Philip Livingston}
Philip Livingston
{Abraham Clark}
Abraham Clark
{Francis Hopinson}
Francis Hopkinson
{JOhn Witherspoon}
John Witherspoon
{John Hart}
John Hart
{George Clymer}
George Clymer
{Robert Morris}
Robert Morris
{Benjamin Rush}
Benjamin Rush
{James Smith}
James Smith
{Benjamin Franklin}
Benjamin Franklin
{John Morton}
John Morton
{George Ross}
George Ross
{James Wilson}
James Wilson
{George Read}
George Read
{Thomas McKean}
Thomas McKean
{Caesar Rodney}
Caesar Rodney
{Charles Carroll}
Charles Carroll
{Thomas Stone}
Thomas Stone
{Samuel Chase}
Samuel Chase
{William Paca}
William Paca
{Carter Braxton}
Carter Braxton
{Thomas Jefferson}
Thomas Jefferson
{Thomas Nelson}
Thomas Nelson
{Francis Lightfoot Lee}
Francis Lightfoot Lee
{Benjamin Harrison}
Benjamin Harrison
{George Wythe}
George Wythe
{William Hooper}
William Hooper
{Joseph Hewes}
Joseph Hewes
{John Penn}
John Penn
{Edward Rutledge}
Edward Rutledge
{Thomas Lynch}
Thomas Lynch
{Arthur Middleton}
Arthur Middleton
{Thomas Heyward}
Thomas Heyward
{George Walton}
George Walton
{Lyman Hall}
Lyman Hall
George Taylor

What Happened in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776?

{Privateers}
Spirit of 76'

The American colonies were growing too big, too fast, and the British Empire had too many international distractions, to have smooth relationships across three thousand miles of ocean, using uncertain communications available in the late Eighteenth century. Friction and misunderstanding were inevitable without far more statesmanship than either side thought was necessary. So, when the Continental Congress dispatched George Washington to Boston with troops to defend rebellious Massachusetts at Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill, it was hard for the British to believe the colonists were merely helping out one of their distressed neighbors. It seemed in London that the thirteen colonies had united, formed not only an army but a government, and gone to war. In December 1775 England passed the Prohibitory Act, essentially declaring war, and organized a huge invasion fleet to put down the rebellion. It now seems hard to understand the first notice the Americans had of this huge over-reaction was a private letter to Robert Morris from one of his agents in March 1776; no warnings, no negotiations, no attempt to investigate problems and correct them. The British just sent a fleet to settle this problem, whatever it was. It's all very well to say the Americans should have known they were playing with fire. They didn't see it that way; they were being self-reliant, responding to attack. In June 1776 British patrol frigates were skirmishing in the Delaware River; late in the month, British troops landed on Staten Island. The American reaction to all this was a muddle of confusion. A few were delighted, most of the rest were amazed or appalled.

Although the deeper strategic origins of the American Revolution are subtle, complex, and controversial, there is far less muddle about what happened on July 2, 1776, publicly proclaimed two days later. Adopting a resolution written by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, the Thirteen Colonies stated they had now clarified their goals in the controversy with the British monarchy. For a year before that, the Continental Congress had been corresponding with each other and meeting in Carpenters Hall with the goal of achieving representation in the British parliament -- "No taxation without representation". The model for most of them was based on the Whig agitation for Ireland -- for a local parliament within a larger commonwealth. But the passing of the British Navy in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and then the actual appearance of seven hundred British warships in American waters showed that not only was Parliamentary representation out of the question, but King George III was going to play rough with upstarts. The new goal was no longer just representation, it was independence. If we were going to resist a military occupation at the risk of being hanged as traitors, we might as well do it for something substantial. The meeting had a number of Scotch-Irish Princeton graduates, whose basic loyalty to England had long been divided. Pacifist Pennsylvania, chief among the wavering hold-outs, was mostly won over by its own Benjamin Franklin, who was optimistic the French would help us. Even so, both Robert Morris and John Dickinson refused to sign the Declaration; Franklin persuaded both to abstain by absence, which created a majority of the Pennsylvania delegation in favor. That's a pretty slim majority for a crucial decision. Franklin was soon dispatched back to Paris to make an alliance; Washington was dispatched to hold off that British army in the meantime. Jefferson was designated to write a proclamation, which even after editing is still pretty unreadable beyond the first couple of sentences. Meeting adjourned. This brief account may not qualify as a serious examination of the causes of the American Revolution, but it comes close to the way it seemed to the colonist in the street.

{Privateers}
Colonist's Complaint

The rebels then spent eight years convincing the British they were serious and have been independent ever since. But, just a minute, here. Reflect on the fact that fighting had been going on for a year in Massachusetts, and that Lord Howe's fleet had set sail a month before the Declaration, actually landing on Staten Island at just about the same time as the Fourth of July. Add the fact that only John Hancock actually signed the document on July 4th, and some of the signers even waited until September. You can sort of see why John Adams never got over the idea that Thomas Jefferson had a big nerve implying the whole Revolution was his idea. What's more, there's a viewpoint that New England subsequently had to endure a President from Virginia for thirty-two of the first thirty-six years of the new nation because loud talk from New England still made the rest of the country nervous. Philadelphia may have been the cradle of Independence, but that was not because it was a colony hot for war, dragging others along with it. Rather, it was the largest city in the colonies, centrally located. It had a strong pacifist tradition, and it had the most to lose from a pillaging enemy war machine. When Independence was finally declared the goal, many of Philadelphia's leading citizens moved to Canada.

New England had started hostilities and was about to be subdued by overwhelming force. The Canadians were not going to come to their aid, because they were French, and Catholic, and enough said. What New England and the Scotch-Irish needed were WASP allies, stretching for two thousand miles to the South. By far the largest colony was Virginia, which included what is now Kentucky and West Virginia; it even had some legal claims for vastly larger territory. Virginia was incensed about its powerlessness against British mercantilism, especially the tobacco trade. The rest of the English colonies had plenty of assorted grievances against George III, and almost all of them could see that America was rapidly outgrowing dependency on the British homeland, without a sign that Parliament was ever going to surrender home rule to them. It was perhaps unfortunate New Englanders were so impulsive, but it looked as though a military confrontation with the Crown was inevitably coming. Without support, New England was likely to be torched, as Rome once subdued Carthage.

And the last hope for an alternative of flattery and diplomacy, for guile and subtlety, had stepped off the boat a year earlier. Benjamin Franklin, our fabulous man in London, arrived with the news he had finally had it "up to here" with the British ministry. He was a man who quietly made things happen, carefully selecting his arguments from amongst many he had in mind. In retrospect, we can see that he held the idea of Anglo-Saxon world domination as far back as the Albany Conference of 1745, and could even look forward to America outgrowing England in the 19th Century. His behavior at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 strongly suggests he never completely gave up that long-term dream. Just as Edmund Burke never gave up the idea of Reconciliation with the Colonies, Benjamin Franklin never quite gave up the idea of Reconciliation with England. While John Dickinson and Robert Morris resisted the idea of Independence down to the last moment, Franklin took a much longer view. For the time being, it was necessary to defeat the British, and for that, we needed the help of the French. In 1750, America joined with the British to toss out the French. And then in 1776, we joined the French to toss out the British. Franklin didn't always get his way. But Franklin was always steering the ship.

And by the way, only a couple of signers joined John Hancock on July 4, 1776. George Ross, for example, signed it when the Continental Congress reconvened on August 2 of that year.

Pennsylvania: Browbeaten Into Joining a War

{Battle of Lexington}
Battle of Lexington

In April 1775, the colonial militia were shooting it out with British soldiers at Bunker Hill and Lexington/Concord. If you include December 16, 1773, Boston Tea Party, Massachusetts had been fighting the British for almost three years before July 4, 1776. It had never been absolutely clear to Pennsylvanians just what they were fighting about in New England, beyond the fact that a considerable store of gunpowder was hidden in Lexington and Concord and British soldiers had been sent to confiscate it, along with those two trouble-makers, Samuel Adams and John Hancock. The militiamen behind the trees were just as British as the soldiers were, and their short slogan of fair treatment was to elect representatives to any Parliament which claimed a right to tax them. Snubbed by a high-handed King, they got his attention by shooting back when the King tried to enforce laws they had not had a chance to vote on. Seeing your neighbors shot soon clarifies your options. Other colonies, especially Pennsylvania, Delaware and South Carolina, were slower to anger about either taxation or representation, worrying more about the motives of unstable leaders in Massachusetts like Samuel Adams, and content to stall while British Whigs led by Edmund Burke and the Marquess of Rockingham tried to civilize the king's ministry. Besides, the British were not attacking Pennsylvania.

To be fair to the hot-headed New Englanders who were apparently stirring up so much unprovoked trouble, a better case could have been made against the heedless British ministry, and New England lawyers should have made it. Following the Boston Massacre, there was genuine alarm among lawyers like John Adams that King George was eroding historic legal rights achieved over several centuries, indeed, preferentially undermining them more for mere colonists than for U.K. citizens with a vote. The Navigation Acts of the British government, in particular, were offensive to American colonists; randomly chosen representatives on juries proceded to render them unenforceable with a wide-spread refusal to convict. They were employing William Penn's strategy of "Jury Nullification", and better acknowledgment of its legal history was sure to make a favorable impact on Philadelphia minds. Somehow, the Boston legal community felt this line of argument was too specialized to be effective, or else shared the alarm of their enemy the British Ministry that Jury Nullification in the hands of the public could be too hard to control. John Adams had made a particularly famous defense of John Hancock who was being punished with confiscation of his ship and a fine of triple the cargo's value. Adams was later singled out as the only named American rebel the British refused to exempt from hanging if they caught him. As everyone knows, Hancock was the first to step up and sign the Declaration of Independence, because by 1776 there was also widespread colonial outrage over the British strategy of transferring cases to the (non-jury) Admiralty Court. Many colonists who privately regarded Hancock as a smuggler were roused to rebellion by the British government thus denying a defendant his right to a jury trial, especially by a jury almost certain not to convict him. To taxation without representation was added the obscenity of enforcement without due process. John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the newly created United States, ruled in 1794 that "The Jury has the right to determine the law as well as the facts." And Thomas Jefferson built a whole political party on the right of common people to overturn their government, somewhat softening it is true when he saw where the French Revolution was going. Jury Nullification then lay fairly dormant for fifty years. But since the founding of the Republic and the reputation of many of the most prominent founders was based on it, there may have seemed little need for emphasis of an argument any modern politician would seize with glee.

{Bunker Hill}
Bunker Hill

At that time, only a third of colonists were in favor of fighting about it, and a third was entirely opposed. Samuel Adams himself had written his supporters that it would be best to hold back until greater revolutionary support could be gathered. Unfortunately, in the minds of the British ministry, hostility had already escalated irrevocably when the Continental Congress in June 1775 created the Continental Army and dispatched George Washington to Boston to join the fight. This was probably the moment when war became inevitable in the collective mind of the British Parliament; a full year had passed since then. Regardless of Bunker Hill, the British were incensed by the creation of the Continental Army, and passed the Prohibitory Act, which declared that all thirteen colonies (belonging to the Congress) were renegades, their decision to raise armies placing them "outside the protection of the king". All American shipping was now subject to seizure, not just that of Massachusetts, as were foreign vessels engaged in American trade. News of this Parliamentary thunderbolt first came to Robert Morris through one of his ships, accompanied by news that 26,000 troops had been raised for an invasion of American ports. The British position was that all thirteen colonies had gratuitously formed a government and an army, and needed to be punished for such treason. Pennsylvania was no exception; the offending Continental Congress had met there, and Benjamin Franklin had represented both Massachusetts and Pennsylvania before Parliament. Confirmation of that particular British attitude toward them greeted Pennsylvanians when British warships promptly appeared in May 1776, to patrol the mouth of Delaware. Three cruisers exploring up the river were attacked by American galleys. In response, the cruisers sailed directly at Philadelphia until they were finally beaten back by citizen flotillas, supervised by Robert Morris and the Committee on Safety. Morris wrote to Silas Deane in Paris that war was probably inevitable. Far less tentatively, the British felt it had already been in progress for a year.

The British Ministry had probably been unreasonably hostile, but they were not unanimous and they were not fools. In response to colonial unrest up until these almost irretrievable events, the British were concentrating on depriving the colonists of arms and gunpowder, mostly avoiding direct violence; it seemed an effective strategy. During the Boston Tea Party, for example, British warships in Boston harbor merely stood by and watched the fun. Although gunpowder was a simple chemical, comparatively easy to make, it was less likely to blow up in your face if finely ground and milled in a major factory; for a real Colonial war it had to be imported. The British strategy had been: Take away their weapons, and they will capitulate. Unfortunately, that was not the response at all, since even loyal colonists felt they needed good gunpowder for hunting and self-protection. Gunpowder blockades and confiscations were going to be bitterly resented. Nevertheless, British patience with the colonists was probably only irretrievably exhausted in June 1775, when the Continental Congress formed its own army and Washington marched them to Boston. If Pennsylvania became convinced of that inevitability, the war was certainly on. After the naval battles right here on Delaware, what really became hard to believe was that -- only a week earlier -- Pennsylvania's moderate voters had soundly defeated the revolutionary radicals in an Assembly election.

Pennsylvania had indeed been far less eager to fight than Massachusetts and Virginia, but the more belligerent colonies felt they needed allies in order to prevail. In the Continental Congress Pennsylvania and South Carolina voted against rebellion in the Spring of 1776; and in the May 1776 election where independence was the main issue, the Pennsylvania voters elected an Assembly 70% opposed to rebellion, including that eminent merchant Robert Morris. Some of the determined Massachusetts efforts to persuade the Mid-Atlantic colonies bordered on subversion, but Pennsylvania remained unmoved. Nevertheless, they could see a real danger of war and had approved Secret Committees to be prepared if it came. Robert Morris was ideal for covert activity and could be expected to keep the activity under control, along with Benjamin Franklin and several prominent merchants. Morris made no secret of his affection for England the country of his birth, or of his membership in the John Dickinson group which hoped economic pressures would suffice. When the Secret Committee chairman suddenly died of smallpox, Morris was then appointed a chairman. His personal integrity was widely respected; in several hotly contested elections, he was nominated by both the radicals and the conservatives.

{top quote}
It seems absolutely necessary to prepare a vigorous defense since every account we receive from England threatens nothing but destruction. {bottom quote}
Robert Morris: December 1775.

The Secret Committee was charged with smuggling in some gunpowder, just in case. Several of the members agreed to ship arms and gunpowder in their own ships; there was no one else to do it. The decision to engage in treasonous gunrunning was greatly assisted by the unexpected appearance of two Frenchmen with aristocratic accents in a boat loaded with gunpowder, who proposed themselves as French counterparties in a major gunpowder and weapons smuggling network which did actually materialize. Just who sent them has never been made entirely clear, but later events make the playwright Beaumarchais a reasonable guess, acting as a secret agent of the French King. Beaumarchais the famous playwright had been caught in a police trap, and forced to act as a government spy; just whose agent he was is a little murky. The American merchants on the Secret Committee knew gun running was expensive for them; they all expected to be paid for dangerous work, so it was also profitable. And treasonous. If caught, there was every possibility of being hanged. Initially, the Americans all imagined the Frenchmen were simply in it for the money, and that is possible. Surprisingly, no one seems even to have speculated they were agents of the French government on a mission to stir up trouble against the English. Spies had surely informed the French King of approaching war, at least six months before the Americans knew of it. Since these two foreign shippers (giving their names as Pierre Penet and Emmanuel de Pliarne, and surely sent to spy) demanded to be paid in hard currency, Morris did send one ship with hard money to pay for munitions to be carried in its hold on the return voyage. But he soon devised safer payment approaches.

{top quote}
For my part I abhor the name & the idea of a rebel, I neither want or wish a change of King or Constitution & do not conceive myself to act against either when I join America in defense of Constitutional Liberty. {bottom quote}
Robert Morris: December 1775

Since he had agents and offices in most major foreign ports, Morris could arrange for the money to arrive independently of the cargo ships. Or better yet, send ordinary commodities on the outward journey and make a private profit on that, returning with munitions paid for by the "remittances" -- revenue from the other cargo. Money was also sent on other circuitous journeys and through other channels, particularly the discounted debt system he had earlier perfected when the paper currency had been prohibited. There was thus less incriminating evidence on the ship, and even if the ship burned or everyone got hanged, the money was at least out of the hands of the enemy. Secrecy was, of course, essential, this activity could be called treasonous, and it was most assuredly smuggling. When neutral countries were found supporting gunrunning, that assistance might well be called an act of war, so all nations prohibited it. In spite of his earlier reluctance about independence, Morris could easily see that gunrunning by the privateers of a recognized nation might be better protected by the conventions of war than exactly the same activity conducted by, say, brigands, profiteers or pirates.

Gunrunning was always seriously dangerous; Morris soon lost four ships, one by a mutiny of secretly loyalist sailors, and two were captured by unscrupulous American privateers. There would be some protection from hanging for gun runners as authorized combatants of a recognized nation. In retrospect, we can now surmise that Franklin was committed to independence, and was probably nudging his friend on the Secret Committee. John Adams could barely contain himself, openly and repeatedly. Washington was already outside Boston leading an army. The commitment had many levels.

In July 1776 Morris was called on to vote in Congress for the independence he always said he opposed. Caesar Rodney rode in from Delaware to deliver his state for Independence; now, Pennsylvania alone stood in the way. When the moment came, on the advice of Franklin, Robert Morris, and John Dickinson left the room to allow other Pennsylvania delegates to constitute a Pennsylvania majority, casting the state's vote for the war. Commitment to the war had many variants, even after the war began.

Book Review: Signing Their Lives Away by Denise Kiernan

CONTENTS: this is the main body of text

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Mennonites: The Pennsylvania Swiss

{On the Wall of the Mennonite Heritage Center}
On the Wall of the Mennonite Heritage Center

Anabaptism, originally attributed to Ulrich Zwingli around 1525, centers around believing a baby is too young to understand baptism, so adults need to be re-baptized. The idea arose independently in Switzerland and Holland, and probably thousands of believers were unmercifully martyred for holding the belief. Because the worst persecutions took place during the War of Austrian Succession (1740-50), they are often attributed to the Roman Catholic Inquisition, but Magisterial Protestants, believing in the separation of church and state, were often also responsible. Many seemingly unrelated issues were introduced locally, and this period of unrest is known as the French and Indian War in America; its major battle took place in Louisburg, Nova Scotia, although George Washington's skirmish around Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh) has acquired local fame as a major American manifestation.

The Swiss adherents moved to the Rhineland Palatinate, and from there were among the first to accept William Penn's offer of religious freedom. They were the settlers of Germantown, but have mainly moved a few miles west to southern Montgomery County, where the confusion about Pennsylvania Dutchmen is further confounded by the fact that they were Swiss. Menno the Dutchman gave his name to the order, but they themselves regard their true ethnic background as Swiss from the Zurich region. That, by the way, is not to be confused with Calvinism, which also comes from Switzerland, but by way of Geneva, not Zurich. The pacifism of the Mennonites made them mutually attractive with the English Quakers, who had made an appearance fifty or so years later in the region around Manchester, England; each group seems to have adopted some of the features of the other.

{On the Wall of the Mennonite Heritage Center}
Franconia Mennonite Meetinghouse

Determined use of the German language has always held the Mennonites apart, however. From the start, it was really necessary to be somewhat bilingual in Montgomery County, using English for business conversation, and German at home and in the church. The idea of using a foreign language is based on the hope it would thus maintain a sense of distinctiveness or even remoteness from non-believers, without adopting the least hostility to them. It almost inevitably follows that the group has used its own schools, attached to their meeting houses. This sense of remoteness has persisted for almost four hundred years, surrounded by entirely different cultures. Starting only around 1960, this attitude has gradually softened, however, and it is widely assumed that in another few decades Mennonites will come to resemble the people in their environment a great deal more than they do at present. If you want to know where to find them, Harleysville is a good place to start. As the tinge of Pennsylvania Dutch accent gradually fades, and fewer of them wear the old costumes, a curious remaining hallmark of their presence can be noticed: an avoidance of foundation planting around their houses. The Mennonites themselves seem to be entirely oblivious to this unintended distinctiveness, which is however quite striking to non-Mennonite passers-by. Those who work in the fields all day have little interest in digging around their houses for decoration; those who have moved away from farming have seemingly adopted the bush-less style as a natural way of arranging things. There's no particular reason to change it, and so, there's no particular reason to notice it.

La Fayette, We Are Here

{Gilbert du Motier, marquis de La Fayette}
Gilbert du Motier, marquis de La Fayette

It will be recalled that La Fayette was 19 years old at Valley Forge, spoke no English, had no previous military experience. He nevertheless demanded, and got, a commission as Major General on the prudent condition that he have no troops under his command, at least for a while. Washington had been strongly reminded by various people that this young Frenchman was one of the richest men in France, a personal friend of the Queen, and thus critical to the project of enlisting French assistance in the war. Under the circumstances, it was shrewd to send him on the project of enlisting Indian allies among the Iroquois, since many tribes, particularly the Oneida, spoke French and held their former allies in the French and Indian War in great esteem. The chief of the Oneida Wolf clan (Honyere Tiwahenekarogwen) was visiting General Philip Schuyler in Albany at about the time LaFayette showed up on his mission to get some help for Valley Forge. General Horatio Gates was busy at the time rallying a colonist army to defend against the British under Burgoyne, coming down from Quebec, eventually to collide at the Battle of Saratoga.

Earlier in the war, Honyere's Oneida tribe had tangled with their fellow Iroquois under the leadership of Joseph Brandt (the Dartmouth graduate who was both biblical scholar and commander of several frontier massacres); the Oneida had many new scores to settle with the English-speaking Iroquois tribes. Honyere made the not unreasonable request that before his warriors went off to war, his new American allies would please build a fortification to protect his women and children from Brandt's Mohawks. LaFayette readily put up the money for this project, quickly becoming the Great French Father of the Oneidas. After some scouting and patrolling for Gates, Honyere and about fifty of his braves followed LaFayette to Valley Forge, where they soon made a nuisance of themselves to the Great White Father George Washington. Finally, word of the official French alliance with the colonists reached London, Howe was replaced by Clinton, and the British began to withdraw from their isolated position at Philadelphia.

It was thus that the jubilant rebels at Valley Forge learned that the fortunes of war had turned in their favor, and the French alliance was the source of it. With the British making preparation to abandon Philadelphia, it seemed a safe thing for Washington to give LaFayette command of two thousand troops, including the fifty Oneida Indians, and post them to Barren Hill (now LaFayette Hill), along Ridge Pike near Plymouth Meeting. Washington gave the strictest orders that they were to take no chances with anything, and particularly were to remain mobile, moving camp every day. This was not exactly what the richest man in France was anticipating, and wouldn't make a very saucy story to tell Marie Antoinette about. So, he promptly set about fortifying Barren Hill. Local Tory spies quickly spread this news to General Clinton, who promptly led eight thousand redcoats up the Ridge Pike to capture the bloody Frog. Clinton's plan was good; a detachment went around LaFayette in the woods and came back down Ridge Pike from the other direction, driving the Americans down the Pike into the open arms of the main body of British troops, coming up Ridge Pike. From this point onward, two entirely different stories have been told.

The more widely-held account has LaFayette climbing the steeple of the local church and noticing that there was an escape path, leading down the hill to the Schuylkill River at Matson's Ford. The Indian scouts were sent forward to hold off the British while the troops made their escape. Clinton sent a cavalry charge of Dragoons forward, yelling and waving their sabers, generally making a terrifying spectacle. The Indian scouts, as was their custom, were lying in the brush shoulder to shoulder, and at command by Honyere rose from the ground to let out a resounding chorus of war whoops. The Indians had never seen a cavalry charge, the Dragoons had never heard a war whoop, so both sides fled the battlefield without doing much damage. Meanwhile, LaFayette and his troops escaped to safety on the far side of the Schuylkill.

Other accounts of this episode relate that when Washington heard of it he remarked sourly that either they were pretty lucky, or else the enemy was pretty sluggish. In any event, a few soldiers were killed on both sides, the Americans crossing the River were described as "kegs bobbing on the pond", and it does seem the British army mostly just watched them do it. In the confusion, of course, everyone involved was fearful of being surrounded by unseen troops, and the British may well have worried the whole thing was a trap.

The saddest postscript to the Battle of Barren Hill is the fate of the Indians. After the war was over in 1783, the colonists busied themselves with taking over Indian land. Honyere pitifully petitioned the New York legislature for some consideration of his tribe's wartime service. They ignored him.

Perth Amboy to Trenton (2)

{Declaration of Independence}
Declaration of Independence

The Revolutionary War had been raging for a year in New England before the Declaration of Independence, a point that never ceased to bother John Adams whenever Thomas Jefferson or his devotees took credit for "starting" the Revolution -- a year after the Battle of Lexington and Concord -- with a piece of paper nailed to a lamp post. To be fair, this interval of a year allowed for the organization of the Continental Army, and Washington's growing military maturity by the summer of '76. But it also explains the landing of Sir William Howe's army on Staten Island at the end of June 1776. A month or so later, his brother Admiral Howe landed some more troops. By September 1776, not all of the signers had yet put their names to the Declaration of Independence, but there were about 40,000 British troops parading around the essentially uninhabited Staten Island in New York harbor, in plain sight of the inhabitants of New Jersey's capital in Perth Amboy, scarcely a mile away.

The British were quite shrewd in selecting New York harbor as the center of their operation, since their Navy was able to move quickly from New Jersey to Rhode Island, up and down the Hudson as far as Albany, and around the considerable expanse of Long Island, not to mention Manhattan. Meanwhile, Washington was faced with crossing numerous rivers to defend hundreds of miles of shoreline, and moving foot soldiers to the necessary position. He tried to defend New York, it is true, but the battles on Brooklyn Heights, Harlem, Fort Washington, and Fort Lee were essentially unwinnable, and the best he could do with the situation was escape with an undestroyed army.

By the fall of 1776 Howe had consolidated his hold on New York, and Washington was reduced to scattering clusters of troops around the places Howe might next choose to invade at any time. In early December, he started landing in New Jersey and marched toward New Brunswick. Washington thought that meant he was going to head for Trenton, and then down Delaware to Philadelphia. There was not much to stop him except skirmishers and Minute Men, but it was not safe for Washington to move his troops from the New York region until the intentions of the British were really clear, by which time it would probably be too late to stop the advance.

Since the Raritan Strip along which Howe and Cornwallis were advancing, was prosperous and Tory, things went pretty well for the British. After two weeks march, they finally arrived in Trenton around December 20. In this triumph, they failed to appreciate the significance of several things, however. Washington was hurriedly summoning about six little colonial armies of five hundred to a thousand men each, to join him now that the intentions of the enemy were clear. Furthermore, the Whigs or rebels of New Jersey were aroused in the Pine Barrens of the South and the hills of the North; New Jersey was not as Tory as it seemed during the initial march down along the Raritan. And, finally, the British and Hessian mercenary soldiers had ravaged the countryside almost as much as the spinmeisters of the Whig patriot cause shouted out they had. The Quaker farmers were particularly upset by the activities of the camp followers, who pillaged curtains and other things not normally attractive to marauding soldiers. And the sharpshooters, loyalist, and rebel were close enough to their own homes to dispose of another booty. It was a cakewalk from New Brunswick down to Trenton, but it was not going to be the same coming back.

Washington got ready to defend the Capitol in Philadelphia, and the wide Delaware river was the best place to do it. When Howe and Cornwallis reached Trenton, they found no boats available for miles up and down the New Jersey side of the river, artillery was planted in strategic places on the Pennsylvania side, ice was beginning to form on the river, it was cold and the December days were short. To the British commanders, Washington posed no particular military problem with his naked ragamuffins. Howe had some lady friends in New York, while Cornwallis was planning to spend a month in London before the spring military season. So the British generals made an overconfident miscalculation, and posted their troops in winter quarters, strung out in outposts from Perth Amboy to Trenton and down to Bordentown. A thousand Hessians were quartered in Trenton. By December 20th, it looked like a peaceful but boring Winter.


REFERENCES


The Pine Barrens: John McPhee: ISBN-13: 978-0374514426 Amazon

Proclamation of Parliament: Ben Franklin's Role

{Pearls on the String}
Franklin Lighting Rod

Ben Franklin had a famous tussle with King George about lightning rods on St. Paul's Cathedral, which led to his humiliation by Wedderburn. And that led to this loyal subject of the Crown switching sides to leave London and sail back to America to join the Continental Congress. Franklin thought he knew a thing or two about lightning rods, while the King owned the Cathedral. It tells you as much about Franklin, as it does about the King.

So it turned out that Franklin was one of a dozen in America who knew that the Treaty of Westphalia had the effect of prescribing hanging as the punishment for armed defiance of a King, but

The Battle of Germantown: Oct. 3, 1777

After its brief commotion from the unwelcome French and Indian War, Germantown settled down to a 22-year period of colonial inter-war prosperity and quite vigorous growth. Most of the surviving hundred historical houses of the area date from this period, and it might even be contended that the starting of the Union School had been a beneficial stimulus.

{Cliveden}
Cliveden

Two decades passed. What we now call the American Revolution started rumbling in far-off Lexington and Concord, soon moved to New York and New Jersey. General William Howe, the illegitimate uncle of King George III, then decided to occupy the largest city in the colonies, tried to get his brother's Navy up Delaware but hesitated to persist in a naval attack on the chain barrier blocking the river. He considered but abandoned trying to outflank the New Jersey fort at Red Bank, the land-based artillery at Fort Muffling, and heaven knows what else along the twisting shaggy Delaware river. Giving up on that approach, Howe sent the navy down to Norfolk and back up the Chesapeake, landing the troops at the head of the Elk River. Washington was outflanked at the Battle of the Brandywine Creek trying to head him off, although he suffered far fewer casualties than the British. A rainstorm, presumably a fall hurricane, disrupted his planned counterattack near Paoli. So Howe invested Philadelphia, organizing his main defensive position in the center of Germantown. His headquarters were in Stenton and Morris House, General James Agnew was at Grumblethorpe The Center of British defense was at set up at Market Square where Germantown Avenue crosses Schoolhouse Lane. With Washington retreating to Valley Forge, that should take care of that. Raggedy rebels were unlikely to attack a prepared hilltop position with a river on either side, defended by a large number of British regulars.

{George Washington}
George Washington

Washington did not look at things that way, at all. Cut off from their fleet, the British situation would be precarious until Delaware could be re-opened. He had watched General Braddock conduct with bravado an arrogant suicide mission in the woods near Ft. Duquesne, and also knew the British always based as much strategy as possible on their navy. Washington's plan was to attack frontally down the Skippack Pike with the troops under his direct command, while Armstrong would come down Ridge Avenue and up from the side. General Greene would attack along Limekiln Road, while General Smallwood and Foreman would come down Old York Road. In the foggy morning of October 3, the main body of American troops reached Benjamin Chew's massive stone house, now occupied by determined British troops, and General Knox decided this was too strong a pocket to leave behind in his rear. Precious time was lost with an artillery bombardment, and unfortunately, the flanking troops down the lateral roads were late or did not arrive at all. The forward movement stopped, then the British counter-attacked. Washington was therefore forced to retreat, but he did so in good order. The battle was over, the British had won again.

But maybe not. Washington hadn't routed the British Army or forced them to leave Philadelphia. They did leave the following year, however, and there was meanwhile no great desertion from the Colonial cause. Washington's troops suffered terrible privation and discouragement at Valley Forge, but the crowned heads of Europe didn't know that. For reasons of their own, the French and German monarchs were pondering whether the American rebellion was worth supporting, or whether it would soon collapse in a round of public hangings. From their perspective, the Americans didn't have to win, in fact, it might be useful if they didn't. But if they were spirited and determined, led by a man who was courageous and resolute, their damage to the British interests might be worth what it would cost to support them. The Battle of Germantown can thus be reasonably argued to have been an advancement of colonial goals, even if it could not be called a victory. However, when the news of Burgoyne's defeat at Saratoga soon reached them, the European enemies of England decided the colonists would be useful allies.

In Germantown itself, the process of turning a military defeat into a strategic victory soon began, with severe alienation of the German inhabitants against the destructive experiences of British military occupation. After a winter of near starvation, Germantown would never again see itself as the capital city of a large German hinterland. It was on its way to becoming part of the city of Philadelphia.

The Revolutionary Origins of The Methodist Church

{Methodist Church}
Methodist Church

There were no signers of the Declaration of Independence who were official Methodists, for the simple reason the Methodist Church was not created until 1784 when John Wesley, secretly ordained its first ministers. However, there is room to believe the movements eventually creating the Methodist Church played a central role in American agitation for independence.

The origins are a little confusing. John and Charles Wesley were both priests in the Church of England, and John famously declared, "I will live and die an Anglican." While at Oxford, they founded a bible and ethical study society which came to be called the Holy Club, and because of systematic thoroughness were familiarly known as Methodists. A systematic study of the Bible in small class groups was a central feature. There was no dissatisfaction with, or rebellion from, the Church of England. Missionary zeal was a second early feature of the group, and some early missionaries like Bishop Francis Asbury were especially active in the American colonies. When Asbury came to America there were 1200 adherents of the general concepts, and when he died there were a quarter of a million formal members of the church. This rapid growth soon became its main problem, because the Anglican Church simply could not supply enough priests, and so the local congregations demanded the right to ordain their own ministers. Wesley agreed but did it secretly. America was a long way from England, and the idea of a local church, independent of England, soon made its appearance, particularly as local practices began to diverge from the Anglican ones.

Missionary zeal soon evolved into a more exhortational evangelism. In Pennsylvania Quaker country, restlessness with Quaker silence produced a reaction of joyous outcry during religious meetings, creating the description "shouting Methodists". Hymn singing was important as a result of Charles Wesley's influence and many Methodist hymns have been adopted by other Protestant denominations. Drunkenness was a major problem in the colonies, and anti-drunkenness or temperance, was the main feature of Methodist attention. A century later, Methodist ministers were to found the Salvation Army, which embodies many of the principles of evangelical, hymn singing anti-drunkenness crusading.

{Charles Wesley}
Charles Wesley

From its earliest days, Methodism welcomed blacks into membership, although a segregationist strain to it ultimately caused trouble. A central figure in the configuration of the early Methodist Church was John Newton, the captain of a slave ship. After nearly perishing in a storm, Newton attributed his rescue to God's intervention, writing the famous hymn, Amazing Grace. He spent the rest of his life in evangelical activities, with particular emphasis on black people.

Although his American visit preceded the formation of the Church, George Whitefield the evangelical preacher played a major role in preparing the Colonial Philadelphia populace for the concepts of Methodism. He attracted great crowds to his sermons, and Benjamin Franklin describes in his autobiography the great impact Whitefield had on him. Now, as it happened, the German Reform church had started but was unable to complete a church building at 235 North 4th Street, which was sold at auction to members of the local Methodist Society. This church building, started in 1763, purchased in 1767, and completed in 1769, can fairly claim to be the oldest Methodist Church building in continuous service in the world, although the dates of these things are pretty confusing for a church officially created in 1784. Just to make things more difficult to understand, Barratt's Chapel, ten miles south of Dover, Delaware, was completed in 1784 on land donated in 1780. If you say it slowly, you can see that it is possible to describe Barratt's Chapel as the oldest house of worship built by and for Methodists. John Wesley's chapel, on City Road, London, is however still the mother church, so to speak. St. George's Church in Philadelphia is notable for ordaining the first black minister, Richard Allen, who had been born a slave of Benjamin Chew (the Chief Justice, whose house was Cliveden, the scene of the Battle of Germantown). Allen was obviously a remarkable person, who bought his own freedom by working as a shoemaker, and who later drove wagons from Rehoboth, Delaware to Valley Forge during the Revolution. (Allen had actually been sold by Chew to Stockley Sturgis, a Delaware plantation owner, who is the one who remorsefully sold him his freedom). Allen often preached five times a day, built up a huge following in the black community, and broke off to form the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The first Church was Bethel, replaced several times at 6th Lombard Streets, but there are now many others across the country.

Visitors from New Jersey, crossing the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, will be able to see the top half of St. George's Church as they descend into Philadelphia. At Christmastime, the windows are lit with real candles, and the interior is a beautifully simple white room. It now has less than a hundred members, but houses the genealogy and other church records for a wide area, and is very popular with people doing research. The bishop's chair dates from Bishop Asbury. Barratt's Chapel is smaller and simpler, but the highway makes a wide swing around it and its burial ground, so it remains a prominent feature of the area around Frederica. It takes several minutes to drive around it, even at high speed, on the way to the Delaware beaches. Wesley College is not far away. Stockley (currently pronounced Stoakly) is commemorated as the name of a small town on the highway, twenty miles south of here.

The Wyoming Massacre of July 3, 1778

{Privateers}
The Wyoming Massacre

The six nations of Iroquois dominated Northeastern America by the same means the Incas dominated Peru -- commanding the headwaters of several rivers, the Hudson, the Delaware, and the Susquehanna, as well as the long finger lakes of New York, leading like rivers toward Lakes Ontario and Erie. They were thus able to strike quickly by canoe over a large territory. Iroquois were quite loyal to the British because of the efforts of Sir William Johnson, who settled among them and helped them advance to quite a sophisticated civilization. It even seems likely that another fifty years of peace would have brought them to an approximately western level of culture. Aside from Johnson, who was treated as almost a God, their leader was a Dartmouth graduate named Brant.

Brant, The Noble Savage

The mixed nature of the Iroquois is illustrated by the fact, on the one hand, that Sachem Brant translated the Bible into Mohawk and traveled in England raising money for his church. On the other hand, his biographers trouble to praise him for never killing women and children with his own hands. British loyalty to these fierce but promising pupils was one of the main reasons for the 1768 proclamation forbidding colonist settlement to the West of what we now call the Appalachian Trail, which on the other hand was itself one of the main grievances of the rebellious land-speculating colonists. The Indians, for their part, saw the proclamation line as their last hope for survival. After Burgoyne's defeat at Saratoga, the Indian allies were free to, and probably urged to, attack Wyoming Valley.

It is now politically incorrect to dwell on Indian massacres, but this one was both exceptionally savage, and very close to home. The Iroquois set about systematically exterminating the rather large Connecticut sub-colony and came pretty close to doing so. Children were thrown into bonfires, women were systematically scalped and butchered. The common soldiers who survived were forced to lie on a flat rock while Queen Esther, "a squaw of political prominence, passed around the circle singing a war-song and dashing out their brains." That was for common soldiers. The officers were singled out and shot in the thigh bone so they would be available to be tortured to death after the battle. The Wyoming Massacre was a hideous event, by any standard, and it went on for days afterward, as fugitives were hunted down and outlying settlements burned to the ground.

It's pretty hard to defend a massacre of this degree of savagery, but the Indians did have a point. They quite rightly saw that white settler penetration of the Proclamation Line would inevitably lead to more penetration, and eventually to the total loss of their homeland. The defeat of a whole British Army under Burgoyne showed them that they were all alone. It was do or die, now or never. Countless other civilizations have been extinguished by provoking a remorseless revenge in preference to a meek surrender.

Washington Lurks in Bucks County, Waiting for Howe to Make a Move

{Moland House}
Moland House

Although Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is staunchly Republican, it has been home to Broadway playwrights for decades; this handful of Democrats have long been referred to as lions in a den of Daniels. One of them really ought to make a comic play out of the two weeks in August 1777, when John Moland's house in Warwick Township was the headquarters of the Continental Army.

John Moland died in 1762, but his personality hovered over his house for many years. He was a lawyer, trained at the Inner Temple and thus one of the few lawyers in American who had gone to law school. He is best known today as the mentor for John Dickinson, the author of the Articles of Confederation. Our playwright might note that Dickinson played a strong role in the Declaration of Independence, but then refused to sign it. Moland, for his part, stipulated in his will that his wife would be the life tenant of his house, provided -- that she never speak to his eldest son.

Enter George Washington on horseback, dithering about the plans of the Howe brothers, accompanied by seven generals of fame, and twenty-six mounted bodyguards. Mrs. Moland made him sleep on the floor with the rest.

Enter a messenger; Lord Howe's fleet had been sighted off Patuxent, Maryland. Washington declared it was a feint, and Howe would soon turn around and join Burgoyne on the Hudson River. Washington had his usual bottle of Madeira with supper.

A court-martial was held for "Light Horse Harry" Lee, for cowardice. Lee was exonerated.

Kasimir Pulaski made himself known to the General, offering a letter of introduction from Benjamin Franklin, which letters Franklin noted had been requested by Pulaski himself. As it turned out, Pulaski subsequently distinguished himself as the father of the American cavalry and was killed at the Battle of Savannah.

{Lafayette}
Lafayette

And then a 19 year-old French aristocrat, the Marquis de Lafayette, made an appearance. Unable to speak a word of English, he nevertheless made it clear that he expected to be made a Major General in spite of having zero battlefield experience. He presented a letter from Silas Deane, in spite of Washington having complained he was tired of Ambassadors in Paris sending a stream of unqualified fortune hunters to pester the fighting army. Deane did, however, manage to make it clear that the Marquis had two unusually strong military credentials. He was immensely rich, and he was a dancing partner, ahem, of Marie Antoinette.

In Mrs. Moland's parlor, Washington sat down with Lafayette to tap-dance around his new diplomatic problem. It was clear America needed France as an ally, and particularly needed money to buy supplies. But it was also clearly impossible to take a regiment away from some American general, a veteran of real fighting, and give that regiment to a Frenchman who could not speak English and who admitted he had no military experience. Fumbling around, Washington offered him the title of Major General, but without any soldiers under his command, at least until later when his English improved. To sweeten it a little, Washington seems to have said something to the effect that Lafayette should think of Washington as talking to him as if he were his father. There, that should do it.

It seems just barely possible that Lafayette misunderstood the words. At any rate, he promptly wrote everybody he knew -- and he knew lots of important people -- that he was the adopted son of George Washington.

Well, Broadway, you take it from there. At about that moment, another messenger arrived, announcing Lord Howe at this moment was unloading troops at Elkton, Maryland. General Howe might have been able to present his credentials to Moland House in person, except that his horses were nearly crippled from spending three weeks in the hold of a ship and needed time to recover. Heavy rains were coming.

(Exunt Omnes).

Suggested Stage Manager: Warren Williams

Museum of the American Revolution

The Right Angle Club of Philadelphia was recently pleased to be visited by Michael C. Quinn, the President, and CEO of the forthcoming Museum of the American Revolution, which will be built at Third and Chestnut Streets, on the site of the former Visitors Center. Mr. Quinn comes to us from the Mt. Vernon and James Madison Museums in Virginia and expects to spend another three years getting the new Museum built and established. It's also expected to cost about $150 million, so look for something really special. The great majority of the required money is expected to come from Philadelphia and surrounding territory, led by a challenge grant from Gerry Lendfest of $40 million.

The collection of Valley Forge and related Revolutionary artifacts was begun by Herbert Burk, an Episcopal rector in Norristown, Pennsylvania, and the son of another Episcopal rector of Clarksboro, New Jersey, and who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania toward the end of the Nineteenth century. The Valley Forge area was pretty well deserted at that time, and the local bishop expressed doubt that it could support both an Episcopal and a Baptist church, particularly since an earlier rector named Guthrie had attempted it and finally disappeared. Reverend Burk, however, was fired with the vision of Washington kneeling in the snow, and highly scornful of doubters who insisted on seeing his footprints in the snow before they would accept it. These were the days just after the German historian Leopold von Ranke had started a movement of great enthusiasm among historians for documents to prove almost anything calling itself history, so there was more than the usual amount of harumphing among academics about authenticity, which Burk dismissed with scorn. Since his second wife was a Stroud, there may have been social issues as well. About all, we really know of George Washington's religious beliefs was that he regularly went to Christ Church and sat in Martha Washington's pew; but he resolutely refused to take Communion. It sounds to some of us as though he was more of a politician than a theologian. But the Museum now has picked up successor enthusiasts, determined to make the Museum a success; so let's let that religion matter drop.

{Museum of the American Revolution}
Museum of the American Revolution

The old visitors center was given a bell by Queen Elizabeth II, who brought it over on the royal yacht and gave a memorable speech at its installation. The deed to the property does not include the bell, and its future is presently uncertain. However, the building will be torn down and replaced by a much larger structure, intended to house many rooms and a tour lasting hours, to show off Washington's military tent and similar artifacts of the low point of the Revolution, when it rested with the personal character of a few founding fathers, to preserve the drive and idealism of the freezing, starving troops. It's a tall challenge for Mike Quinn to carry it off with the right mixture of showmanship and concern for accuracy. After all, no good story is improved by exaggeration.

Newburgh NY: Washington Slept Here

{Privateers}
Newburgh, NY

A silhouette map of the Hudson River from top to bottom shows several stretches of narrow river between several other wide stretches, almost like lakes. The narrows reflect the places where mountain ranges broke apart to let the river through, and the lakes are places where the water backed up until it got high enough to flow through the gorges. There's not much water pressure since the Hudson at the mouth of the river at New York Bay is only a few feet deeper than it is at Albany. Ben Franklin was the first to observe that the Hudson and Delaware are not exactly rivers; they are more like fjords, tidal up to Poughkeepsie and Marcus Hook, respectively. The Dutch had a settlement at New Amsterdam, of course, but there was another settlement around the Tappan Zee, and another cluster above West Point. Kingston was the dominant town of this upper settlement, but the British had burned it to the ground after their defeat at Saratoga in 1777. In 1782, Washington chose Newburgh to be his headquarters, where he remained for 16 months, the longest headquarters interval during the eight-year guerilla war.

{Privateers}
Storm King Mountain

As always, Washington made excellent use of geography. The Storm King Mountain and West Point to its south narrowed the water route to New York down to a defensible defile. On the east side of the Hudson, the towering ridge not only protected the encampment from surprise but provided a lookout point at Beacon, where television towers now stand. The land is broken and semi-mountainous on the east side of the Hudson, all the way into Connecticut; an extension of difficult terrain which on the south crosses the Hudson and extends west into New Jersey. Reduced to its essentials, the British in New York and Washington in Newburgh were separated by a mountain range with a Hudson River water gap running through it. Immediately to the west beyond Newburgh however, the land is fairly flat until it rises to the watershed of Delaware. Washington could defend the Hudson against the British Navy at the narrows, eventually blocking the channel with a chain which was sufficient barrier to sailing vessels if they were vulnerable to cannon fire from the shore. If there was a land attack sweeping around behind Newburgh, Washington could escape by sailing up the Hudson; in that case, he would have boats and the pursuing British Army wouldn't. Such a daunting natural fortress was adequate for his situation since the British were equally reluctant to sustain casualties in frontal assaults so late in the war unless victory was fairly quick and easy. This was the general issue underlying the Benedict Arnold affair: blocking the British Navy from making a landing north of the watergap.

{Privateers}
Battle of Yorktown

After the battle of Yorktown, the British could see there was no hope of subjugating large colonies using armies mostly supplied by sea. The Revolution settled down to attrition at sea, but the American privateers were winning that, too. Eventually, more British were lost to privateering than to warfare on land. The colonies were learning how to supply themselves with manufacturers, while the British were losing substantial amounts of trade with other parts of the Empire. Franklin in Paris was counting on Washington to maintain a credible threat; Washington was counting on Franklin to drive a hard bargain, but hurry up, please, our troops haven't been paid and are restless. The privateers were both suffering and inflicting appalling losses at sea, but their owners were getting rich. Most of the early great fortunes of Federalist America trace their origin to privateering. All of these emerging realities presented a bleak future to the British, and Franklin was masterful in rubbing it in. But if Washington lost control of his little army, a great deal more would be lost at the treaty negotiations.

Powel House, Huzzah!

{Privateers}
Elizabeth Powel

If George Washington were alive we wouldn't have such a thing as political parties, at all. The term "Republican Court" had nothing to do with R's and D's. Many traditions of American high society were formed in the second-floor dining room of this house. It was the Mayor's home. The town had 30 thousand souls, fourteen wheeled vehicles, and a Quaker pacifist majority. President Washington lived a few doors away, but the streets were unpaved. It was a scheme cooked up by Washington and Madison to enlist support from the new government's important ladies. The best these males could imagine was a modified version of a European royal court, to fuse thirteen colonies into a cohesive nation. The most remarkable thing about it was its frank imitation of such royal courts, something only the Father of His Country could pull off in former colonies which had just fought an eight-year war to be rid of the monarchy. It is a great testimony to the faith of Americans in George Washington; but it also testifies to the power of enthusiastic women. Chief among the leaders in this court was Elizabeth Powel, along with her niece living around the corner on Spruce Street, Anne Willing Bingham. Before Stephen Girard came along, her 28 year old husband was the richest man in America. Recently, the Peale Society held a candlelight dinner in Mrs. Powel's magnificent second-floor dining room. Scholars of the history of the Republican Court then told assembled notables of Philadelphia what had once been what, during the first ten years of the new Republic.

Dining Room

Members of the early Congress were largely the same men as the founding fathers of the Constitutional Convention, hand-picked by Washington and Madison to persuade the legislatures of their former colonial states to give up new-state sovereignty for a unified nation. There was a difference that now they brought their wives to live in Philadelphia during sessions of Congress. Those women wanted to know each other and wanted to have something exciting to do together in the largest city in the new nation. Their husbands knew how politically useful it was to be socially acquainted, so everybody liked the idea of suddenly becoming nationally connected. The initial idea proved unworkable. Martha Washington was supposed to become Lady Washington, reigning over weekly receptions.

{candlelightreading2}
In Our Cups

But Martha, unfortunately, wasn't up to the task, and Anne Bingham whose rich husband had taken her on lengthy tours of European royal courts, moved right in and took charge of this project. Besides her cousin Elizabeth Powel, notable members of this social whirl were the two daughters of Chief Justice Benjamin Chew, Alexander Hamilton's wife, and various members of the Shippen and Willing families. Members of the family of Charles Carroll of Carrolton, Maryland, Cadwaladers of various sorts, and a number of other names famous from then until even today joined their affiliations with ladies from other states through parties and even some weddings. Their prominence attracted social climbers. John Adams was particularly awestruck by the poise and beauty of Anne Bingham, although Abigail Adams may not have been quite so infatuated. It was a dizzy whirl, with dinner parties the central activity just as they are in Philadelphia even today. Country bumpkins had to learn how to dress, to talk and eat with the right spoon keeping their elbows off the table. Those who could tactfully show them what was what were friends for life. Centuries later, Emily Post made a fortune writing books about such rules.

{Privateers}
Republican Court

In those days, they even had their war cry, which was to raise a glass and shout back "Huzzah" in response to the proposer of a toast, who had raised his glass starting the warcry. It wasn't "Skol" or "Cheers" or "Here, here" if you knew what was what; it was "Huzzah". Most fashionable dinners had at least twenty courses, but the ladies didn't eat them. It was a whispered instruction among the ladies that they should eat before the dinner, so they could gracefully decline to gobble up goodies, and spend their time in gay conversation or waiting to be asked to dance. Drinking and eating, especially drinking, was for the men at the party, although naturally the many courses of the banquet were put in front of the ladies to be airily ignored. When George Washington was present as he often was, or even La Rochfoucault himself, it was important to remember every spoken word.

And, you know, it worked. When these important people went back home, they took the customs of the Republican Court with them. The American diplomatic corps found the equivalent of minor-league training for their efforts on behalf of the country abroad. Politics was easier if you personally knew your adversaries as well as your allies. The persistence of the same family names in the Social Register, the lists of The Four Hundred and other compilations of high society show that Anne Bingham and Elizabeth Powel did indeed know what they were doing, and for that matter, so did George Washington. If anyone else had been at the top of this heap, Thomas Jefferson stood ready to attack with all his might.

{Amity Button}
Amity Button

But he and even Patrick Henry didn't dare attack Washington. The aristocrats of Old Europe probably did sneer at this amateur effort, and in some circles still, do. But the inability of absolutely any other group of nations, whether European, Asian or South American, to unite peacefully is a thumb in the eye of anyone who mocks George Washington's little Philadelphia creation. And to think it all began right here, right here in the Powel House, right here in the dining room on the second floor. For that, folks, one thunderous "Huzzah!"


REFERENCES


A Portrait of Elizabeth Willing Powell: 1743-1830 David W. Maxey ISBN-13: 978-0871699640 Amazon

The Scotch-Irish In the Revolution

{Privateers}
Dr. Witherspoon

The most eminent Scotsman in Colonial America was the Reverend Dr. Witherspoon, an eminent Presbyterian minister and President of the College of New Jersey, later Princeton University. Already at the top of the academic heap in Scotland, he was recruited for Princeton on the advice of Benjamin Franklin, who knew his political sentiments well. From England, Witherspoon made the following exhortation to his future compatriots at the critical moment of the Declaration of Independence:

{Privateers}
Scottish Pipers

"To hesitate at this moment is to consent to our own slavery. The noble instrument on your table, which insures immortality to its author, should be subscribed this very morning by every pen in this house. He who will not respond to its accents and strain every nerve to carry into effect its provisions is unworthy the name of freeman. Whatever I may have of property or reputation is staked on the issue of this contest; and although these gray hairs must descend into the sepulcher, I would infinitely rather that they descend hither by the hand of the executioner than desert at this crisis the sacred cause of my country."

On the humbler level of popular doggerel, was the following:

"And when the days of trial came,

Of which we know the story,

No Erin son of Scotia's blood

Was ever found a Tory. "

It may not be quite true that the Scotch-Irish immigrants started the Revolution, or led it, or did most of the serious fighting. But in Pennsylvania their role was decisive. New England started most of the trouble, the aristocrats of Virginia quickly rose to the challenges of chivalry, but Pennsylvania was not so darned sure about this business. The back-country Germans were perfectly content to farm the richest topsoil they ever heard of, the Quakers were peaceful and prosperous just as they were. It was the Scotch-Irish of the frontier, needing no pretext of Tea Taxes or Stamp Acts to hate the English King, who were ready to take the musket off the wall at the slightest provocation.

It is indeed puzzling in retrospect to wonder what the English Kings were trying to achieve. Having driven the Scots out of their Scottish homeland into Ireland where they would be less bother, they subsequently drove them out of Ireland as well. The short explanation has been offered that James II who was to be driven off the throne for his Catholic leanings, had seen Ireland as a fall-back refuge in case of trouble and wanted it safely Catholic. So in anticipation of what did indeed happen under William and Mary, he wanted the Presbyterians out of there.

There is perhaps some logic to this, but try telling it to a Scot.

Peggy Shippen and Benedict Arnold: Fallen Idols

General Burgoyne

After defeating Washington's troops at the battle of Germantown, the British then occupied Philadelphia for the better part of a year. The town was a mess, with food shortages typical of the squalor of any occupying army equalling the existing population. Washington was forced to fall back to the natural fortress of Valley Forge. The city of Philadelphia was not exactly under siege, but it was as difficult a place for British troops to live as a besieged city. For his part, Washington was forced to shiver and starve in the nearby mountain valley, at least consoled by distant news of American achievements. General Burgoyne and his army were soon captured at Saratoga by General Gates under humiliating circumstances. Clearly, the dashing hero of this event had been Benedict Arnold on a white horse leading the charge, getting wounded in the leg in the process.

Benjamin Franklin in Paris

Benjamin Franklin in Paris trumpeted the news of this victory, reminding the French of Washington's earlier victory at Trenton, and maneuvering it all into a treaty of alliance. With the French fleet in the nearby Caribbean, Philadelphia was no longer a safe place for the British to stay a hundred miles upriver, and the idea of abandoning occupied Philadelphia began to grow. Having gambled on British victory in defiance of London's orders, the Howe brothers were not in a position to argue with new orders. The British soldiers inside the city were more comfortably housed than the American troops outside it, but nobody was exactly comfortable. The American Congress had, of course, fled to the hinterlands. All in all, it suddenly became uncertain who was going to win this war.

Peggy Shippen

The American population at this time has been described as a one-third rebel, one-third Tory, and one-third trying to hunker down to see who would win. Many of the seriously committed Tories had fled from Philadelphia when the rebels took charge, while pacifist Quakers were a little hard to classify. Generally speaking, the prosperous merchant class had never been persuaded King George was all that bad, while the less prosperous artisans were the fervent patriots. Under such conditions, many people who privately leaned in either direction found it was best to seem non-committal. The British were billeted in private homes; the Officers in the best houses of the merchant class, the common soldiers generally housed in the homes of the artisans. Although the soldiers and the artisans did not mix very well, circumstances permitted the aristocratic officers getting on pretty well with the merchants whose houses they occupied. The girls in the colonial families seemed immediately attractive to the British officers, who were far from home, while the officers also seemed pretty glamorous to the girls. So, it is not exactly surprising that the most beautiful colonial belles like Peggy Shippen and Peggy Chew found themselves frequently in company with dashing officers like Major John Andre. Andre would likely have been a heartthrob in any circumstance since he had risen to the rank of adjutant-general at a young age, wrote poetry and plays, reputedly was rich, and was regularly the life of any party. Nor is it surprising that generations of Peggy's descendants have treasured a lock of his hair.

Margaret Oswald Chew Howard

When the decision was finally made to abandon Philadelphia, six of the British officers personally contributed twenty-five thousand dollars to throwing Philadelphia's most famous, most splendiferous party, called The Machianza. It went on for days, had real jousting matches between officers dressed like knights in armor, banquets and all that sort of thing. It was Andre's idea, and he was enthusiastically in charge. Surviving records of the event do not show that Peggy Shippen was present, but in view of what happened later, much of her correspondence has been destroyed. It's pretty hard to imagine she wasn't there.

Major General Benedict Arnold

The British then marched away, and Washington's troops cautiously followed, assuming control of the city. Major General Benedict Arnold had been sent from Saratoga to Valley Forge to recover from his leg wound, and probably also to raise morale among the troops celebrating the now-famous hero. Washington more or less immediately decided to pursue the British across New Jersey, thus leading to the battle of Monmouth as the two armies raced for the Naval vessels in lower New York harbor. Since General Arnold had not fully recovered from his wounds, he was installed as the military governor of a somewhat bedraggled Philadelphia. Naturally, he was the center of the social scene, and soon was pursuing Peggy Shippen in every way he knew, which included some pretty gloppy letters in Romantic style. Peggy's father was uneasy about his intentions but was eventually mollified by Arnold's purchase of the house called Mount Pleasant, now a tourist attraction in Fairmount Park. With this evidence that his prospective son in law was at least likely to stay in Philadelphia, Edward Shippen finally repented of his opposition to the marriage of his daughter. But the new couple were soon off to West Point, where Arnold had kept up a persuasion campaign with George Washington, to get himself appointed the commandant of the main northern defense of the Hudson River. A point for Philadelphian tour guides to remember is that Peggy and Benedict never got a chance to live in Mount Pleasant.

Arnold originally lived in New Haven, Connecticut, where he had established quite a sea-faring reputation as a merchant, some would say privateer, others would say buccaneer. There is no doubt he was aggressive, and combative, and considered himself a little bit above the law. These qualities made him outstanding at Fort Ticonderoga and Saratoga, and are always more highly valued in young men in a war. Unfortunately, he made a bitter enemy of Joseph Read who was briefly his neighbor, and later was President of the Continental Congress. Read accused Arnold of smuggling and trading with the enemy, and was so determined about it that Arnold was scheduled for court-martial, but postponed. Arnold was loudly defensive about the whole matter, and public sympathy was on his side. In view of what soon happened, he might well have been cleared by the court, but likely there was some truth to the accusations. Using Peggy as a go-between, he entered into a correspondence with Andre (then the adjutant-general in New York) offering to deliver the surrender of West Point, three thousand prisoners, and possibly George Washington himself in return for what might today be half a million dollars. As a note of realism, he was willing to accept half that in the event of failure. The British were particularly anxious to acquire American prisoners to exchange for their own troops captured at Saratoga. Unless Arnold was a total sociopath, he must have thought he had quite a grievance.

Lord Cornwallis

Things went along surprisingly well at first, with negotiations for price back and forth, plans for attacking West Point moving along with the Navy, and Andre disguising himself for a visit to Arnold in his house to the south of the Fort on West Point. Much of the success was due to the movie-star reputation of Benedict Arnold; few could imagine such a hero doing such an unheard-of thing. However, the plot was discovered while Washington was away visiting the Fort, and Arnold hastily abandoned his family and fled to a waiting British warship. Andre decided to make his way south to the ship through rebel territory, but local soldiers and farmers were much more suspicious than others had been, and after penetrating his disguise, found incriminating papers concealed in his boots. Since he was out of uniform behind enemy lines, Andre was by definition a spy, which required hanging. He made a plea to be shot like a gentleman, but Washington with tears allegedly in his eyes refused. With much bravado, Andre jumped atop his own casket and placed the noose around his own neck, a behavior much admired by his compatriots when they heard of it

Meanwhile, Peggy had put on a crazy-woman act which apparently convinced Washington to be lenient, and allow her to rejoin her husband. The couple stayed in New York for a few months, toying with commands of loyalist troops in the south, but eventually taking ship for England. Lord Cornwallis was on the same ship and they became pals as shipmates, pleasing Arnold quite a lot. Unfortunately, British society was only stiffly polite to them, and many did not trouble to conceal their disdain for traitors to any cause, and thus life in England was not smooth. By that time, it is possible that many had begun to suspect the whole idea of treason was Peggy's idea from the start, as is today the conventional view of it. As an American aristocrat, she was uncomfortable with the rebels in Philadelphia, and as the impetuous wife of an accused smuggler, it was difficult to fit in with either the Quakers or the merchants with loyalist leanings. No doubt she heard some catty whisperings among her friends and relatives about her other romantic associations. The British paid them their promised pensions, but a career in the British Army was out of the question for her husband. But the real shock would come, from discovering the British as a whole didn't much care for their behavior, either.

The Final Capture of Philadelphia (6)

{howe}
General Howe

Philadelphia had only 25,000 inhabitants during the Revolutionary War. Now, nearly that many British soldiers of Sir William Howe poured into town, victorious. Victorious, except for being cut off from their supplies on the warships in the Chesapeake. Men war soon sailed up the Delaware River but found the narrow channel between Fort Mifflin and Fort Mercer in New Jersey blocked by strange contraptions called chevaux-de-frise. These instruments consisted of heavy timbers sunk to the bottom of the river, containing massive iron prongs that reached almost to the surface but pointing downriver. They were effective blocks to wooden vessels, almost impossible to dislodge. The general arrangement was: Fort Mercer on the top of the New Jersey cliff called Red Bank (now National Park), overlooking the blockaded channel. On the other side of the ship channel, Fort Mifflin on an island. A second channel between Fort Mifflin's island and the Pennsylvania shore was quite shallow, allowing special American gun barges and galleys to come down and attack the larger British vessels, then to escape pursuit by fleeing upstream. The Americans had two years to perfect this defense, and it was formidable. Only one or two large sailing vessels could maneuver near it downriver, and at least the Pennsylvania side was difficult to attack across the mud flats.

When Howe was earlier considering how to attack Philadelphia as he sailed Southward past the mouth of Delaware, he had decided it was hopeless for his fleet to attack this barrier if it was defended by an army, and the strategy evolved to defeat Washington, first. However, in the event, Washington's Army remained essentially intact after the conquest of the city, and from Valley Forge was able to interfere with supplies from the Chesapeake or lower Delaware Bay, but still send reinforcements to the river defense. The communication line on the Westside was essentially what is now the Blue Route, the third side of a triangle, from Conshohocken to Fort Mifflin, containing all of the British troops. The bend in Delaware made two sides of this triangle, and turbulence created by the river bend threw up mud islands which made the channel particularly narrow. These islands have since been filled in for the airport, the stadiums and the Naval yard, so the battleground is today, unfortunately, a little hard to make out, just as is also true of Bunker Hill, North Church, etc. in Boston Harbor.

Four or five hundred Americans were in each of the two forts, and eventually, most of them were wiped out, at least half of them by starvation and exposure as much as cannon and musket fire. They had British on both sides of them, heavy guns bombarding them, under attack for weeks. The British kept at it because to fail meant the loss, by starvation and snipers, of almost the entire British expeditionary force in America. A contingent of Hessians under von Donop was sent to Haddonfield and down the King's Highway to attack Fort Mercer from the rear. In a moment famous in Haddonfield, a champion runner named Jonas Cattell sneaked out of the town and ran to Fort Mercer to tell the troops to turn their guns around for an attack from the rear but lie concealed behind the guns, while meanwhile the Quakers in the little town entertained the Hessians in a very friendly way. There was more to it than that, with some heavy fighting in the open, but von Donop and most of his troops were casualties. The fort had been made smaller in the past, unexpectedly presenting the attackers with a second set of fortifications after they surmounted the outer ones. Later on, a second assault by a different contingent of Hessians did level the Fort. If not, there would have been a third or a fourth assault, because a river passage simply had to be forced to relieve starving Philadelphia. Before the repeated assaults were over, Fort Mifflin had also been bombarded into rubble. But what really carried the day for the British was the late realization that if small Americans boats could sneak down the channel on the Pennsylvania side of Mifflin; then small British boats could go the other way, as well. Although the river blockage was eventually broken, it took six weeks after the battle of Germantown, and meanwhile, the heroic defense did a great deal to rally the sympathies of what had been considered maybe a loyalist city, and partly loyalist Colony of New Jersey. Before the winter was over, Howe had to go back to London to explain himself, being replaced by General Clinton, who was much less clever and much more provocative as a conqueror. The first two years had British control by a minority of hothead aristocrats. For the remaining five years of the war, the sobered British concept was no longer liberation of colonial Tories, but the subjugation of fanatic Rebels. The realization gradually spread, through both England and America, that the war had been lost, since Independence was a more sustainable situation for everyone than continuing endless efforts at subjugation.

The Houses in the Park

Strawberry Mansion

Fairmount Park is said to be the largest park (7000+ acres) within the limits of an American city, and in fact, maybe just a little bigger than the city can afford to maintain. It was established in the middle of the 19th Century through the efforts of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia to reverse the Industrial Revolution's relentless pollution of Philadelphia's Schuylkill River and the water works. The waterworks were built in 1801 in the mistaken belief that Yellow Fever was caused by pollution; Fairmount Park more accurately responded to the idea that Typhoid Fever was waterborne from upstream pollution. Lemon Hill, the nearby mount containing Robert Morris' Mansion, was purchased to expand the reservoir capacity of the waterworks and thereby made the Art Museum possible where the reservoirs were originally located.

The Park has long constituted a symbolic interval between center city and the suburbs. Since the construction of the river drives and later the expressway, the commute along the river amidst trees and parkland has made an entrance to town a pleasant experience. If the town planners had been able to foresee automobile commuting, they might have anticipated that the sun would be in the driver's eyes coming East during morning rush hour, and in his eyes as he went home toward the West in the evening. Driving safety might perhaps have been impaired by the tendency of this glare to direct attention to the park rather than straight ahead, but nevertheless redoubles the effect of the park views as a daily aesthetic experience. Even the pollution idea had its ambiguous side since animals increase the bacterial runoff from their grazing areas, and the original houses in the park had many pastures. Strip mining, however, allows mineral contaminants to be washed by rain into the watershed. The city waterworks today extract nearly 800 tons of sludge from the water supply, daily. Whatever the effect downstream, the high ground had less malaria and less typhoid than swampy lowlands, so many of the original houses were useful summer retreats for city dwellers during the early years of the city.

The park is governed by the Park Commission, and at one time had its own police force, the fourth largest police force in the state. Started in 1868, the Park Guards changed their name to the Park Police and then became part of the Philadelphia Police in 1972. The original 28 officers had grown to 525, had their own police academy and a proud tradition. It seems very likely that some deep and dirty politics were played in this shift of authority, and it might be a fair guess that some bitterness still survives in the circles who know and care about these things. In 2008 a scarcely-noticed rule change gave the Park to the City Department of Recreation, thus placing it just a little closer to ambitious real estate development. Our present concern, however, is with the houses in the park.

There are seven of them, kept up and maintained by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Guided tours are provided intermittently by the museum, but since funds are limited only three of the houses are open year round. The others are equally worth a visit but unfortunately, are closed during the height of the spring flowering season. Two of the year-round houses represent the two extremes of Philadelphia culture, since Mount Pleasant was owned by a buccaneer ("privateer") named McPherson who lived at the height of 18th Century elegance, while Cedar Grove was originally a Quaker farmhouse of the greatest simplicity consistent with honest comfort, a style which persisted relatively unchanged until late in the 19th Century. Benedict Arnold and Peggy Shippen looked at Mount Pleasant with an eye to purchase but never lived there because they were called away by national events. With the addition of modern plumbing and air conditioning, Mount Pleasant would be an elegant place to live, even today. McPherson had to sell the place to pay his debts, whereas the Wister and Morris descendants of Cedar Grove still populate the Social Register in large numbers. The two houses completely typify the underlying philosophies of the two leading Philadelphia classes of leadership. One group measures itself by how much it spends, the other group measures success by how much it has left.


REFERENCES


Treacherous Beauty: Peggy Shippen, the Woman behind Benedict Arnold's Plot to Betray America: Mark Jacob:978-0762773886 Amazon

The Marriage of Figaro, Huzzah!

{Privateers}
The Marriage of Figaro

Whether it was a happenstance or the start of a trend, the recent performance of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro was among a handful of best operas I have ever seen. Or heard, if that is a better figure of speech. Perhaps management was only seizing an opportunity provided by the recent turmoils of the Philadelphia Orchestra; time will tell. The Marriage of Figaro may not be the best opera ever written, since it is the work of a young composer genius who failed to live long enough to mature into his final style (foreshadowed by The Requiem), with a near-perfect rendition of a certain style of opera limited by traditions to the Eighteenth Century, and necessarily limited in the instruments available to a small Central European court comedy.

{Privateers}
Philadelphia Opera

In some ways, it illustrates the fifteen or so early comedies of Shakespeare, all of which would have been improved by music and women players. Some are better renditions than others, but they all sort of seem alike. A Shakespearean comedy set to music might be a way to describe it. Although it has star performers, in a certain sense it has ten central characters, five male and five female. All of these get their moment of solo prominence, while two of them (one male and one female) got the final bows to rising applause from a standing audience. Nevertheless, it is the performance of the entire company which delights the audience. It had one sour note at the beginning last night, and it was a little too long, but these seemed the rough edges of a nervous young performance, not the embarrassments of some overweight visiting stars.

{Privateers}
Count Pierre Beaumarchais

This is, after all, Philadelphia, and one serious local flaw must be mentioned. The program mentioned Mozart, and the librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, but the historical roots of this opera apparently escaped the notice of management. The opera is a derivative of a play by Beaumarchais, who played a central role in the American Revolution. Count Pierre Beaumarchais was watch-maker to King Louis, as a result of inventing the escapement that made the pocket watch possible. As such, he was a member of the Court, but King Louis XVI didn't know what to do with a famous inventor who persisted in flitting about the Court delivering billet doux to amorous courtiers and ladies of the Court. So he was dispatched as a spy to the English Court, and became infatuated with the revolutionary ideas of John Wilkes. Returning to the French Court, Beaumarchais persuaded Louis that what the rebels needed was gunpowder. Eventually, this led to a French boat loaded with gunpowder arriving at a party given by Robert Morris, asking if it was possible to speak to George Washington. Unfortunately, Washington was at Trenton, trying to decide if he could risk an attack on Trenton, in spite of lack of gunpowder. So Morris arranged a meeting, the eventual outcome of which was winning at Trenton and Princeton, later Saratoga, and Benjamin Franklin exaggerating these victories into an alliance with France which won the Revolution. Franklin became great friends with Mozart and sent him a rendition of the Armonica, a musical instrument Franklin invented which wowed 'em in Europe. Meanwhile, Beaumarchais wrote his play and Mozart converted it into an opera, useful as propaganda in the French Revolution.

{Privateers}
Madam Butterfly

It is probably a reflection of the many recent immigrants to Philadelphia from other cities who now dominate our entertainment scene, that this vital piece of history is not even mentioned in the program notes, much of which took place a few blocks from what is now the Academy of Music. By the way, much the same fate befell Madam Butterfly, written on a table of the Franklin Inn, only one block from the Academy.

The Silas Deane Affair

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Robert Morris Invents American Banking

The finances of our new nation were subject to many violent swings from the day the British abandoned Philadelphia in 1778 right up to the end of the war in 1783, but things steadily turned for the better after Robert Morris took charge of the Department of Finance in 1780, and particularly a year later when he was given the confusing title of Financier. Those two-mile stones could be marked in another way; with the establishment of the Bank of Pennsylvania in 1780, and then a year later the Bank of North America. Both institutions were products of the Morris imagination, matching the evolving state of his thinking. But the politicians only permitted these innovations after bitter battles, so in a sense, they matched what he could accomplish politically, in two steps grudgingly forced on him by the world's reluctance to trust his ideas. It remains unclear which innovations originated with Robert Morris, and which ones were derived from the Swiss economist Jacques Necker, who had become the French Minister of Finance, or Adam Smith whose Wealth of Nations was published in 1776. There were obvious similarities in the approach of these men, and a means of communicating existed through Silas Deane in Paris. Curiously, Necker was primarily famous in Europe for shrinking the bloated and corrupt bureaucracy of French financial administration. It is not irrelevant that whenever clear thinking replaces floundering, waste and abuse begin to subside.

{The First Pennsylvania Bank}
The First Pennsylvania Bank

The Pennsylvania Bank of 1780, unrecognizable today as a "bank", resembled a modern bond fund, operated as a partnership. It initially raised 300,000 pounds mainly from wealthy merchants, in return for interest-bearing 6-month notes. That money was promptly used to buy 500 barrels of flour for the troops at Morristown NJ. The bank thus served to transfer private funds to public purposes, which was what a rich nation urgently needs when its troops are starving.

It is always difficult to propose new ideas; in this case Morris also had to overcome resistance to taxes, which many citizens thought the Revolutionary war was all about. Taxation is, undeniably, a form of confiscation. When danger is clear at moments of panic, voluntary contributions may suffice; it is then almost sufficient to pass the hat. Soon enough, however, the government needs to increase incentives to induce the public to take the risk, hence interest rates offered by the bank must become market-driven, responding to negotiated public opinion. In short catastrophic wars for survival, a nation can gambles all its resources heedlessly. But steadily financing an eight-year war ultimately becomes a constant search for acceptable ways to transfer enough private wealth to cover the military effort, but not enough to stir up inflation. Floating interest rates, ultimately based on prevailing public opinion, do offer a match with changing prospects for victory or defeat, but only when they are not tampered with. Mismatches between public opinion and interest rates might seem tempting short-cuts to government, but they lead to inflation, price controls, rationing, and shortages of goods.

{top quote}
There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain of success, that to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. {bottom quote}
Niccolo Machiavelli --The Prince

In the United States in 1780, a huge disparity between the sudden wealth of privateers, and the abject poverty of Washington's army provoked trouble. At a time when the army was barefoot, Robert Morris' personal wealth was estimated at eight million dollars, but it seems likely the contrast between barefoot soldiers and free-spending privateer sailors was even more divisive since recruitment preferences were affected. The government tried many things: inflation default, devaluation default, confiscations, and even a few timid taxes. That duty was even proposed in Congress to be levied on the prize captures of privateers, suggests the public was alert to windfall profits. But it seemed oblivious to the principle that if you tax something, you get less of it; Congress was effectively proposing to punish the capture of British ships.

The idea of some sort of bank first came to Robert Morris less than a week after he stepped forward into the rioting streets to offer ten thousand pounds of his own money for assistance to the army, and induced several dozen of his friends to be similarly generous. It was not only necessary, but it was also nation-saving. In the previous ten months, the Continental dollar had been devalued forty to one, and then later 65 to one. No one would trust such a currency, whose consequence was certain to be a military disaster. But Morris obviously also knew that winning a war run by private subscription was unlikely to last much longer than one which depended on inflated paper currency and price controls. Petaliah Webster, a brilliant economist for the day, published pamphlets sarcastically comparing price controls to the religious conversion of a prisoner on a torture rack.

Therefore, passing the hat was also only an expedient. A week later Morris reorganized the concept to be The Pennsylvania Bank, where variable interest rates would induce reluctant lenders to lend. It was perhaps one or two steps better than losing the war, but it was primitive and limited. So, although Morris had originally opposed the war for independence, and the public certainly wasn't thrilled with taxes, market-driven interest rates were about all the Continental Congress would tolerate, as a compromise between confiscation and begging. The principle of free-market interest rates worked, in the sense that the army was able to fight on for several more years, but ultimately the soldiers revolted for lack of pay. It was notable that the Pennsylvania Line led the mutiny, or protest march, from Newburgh NY to the doors of Congress, and George Washington came close to giving the troops his tacit approval.

{The Bank of North America}
The Bank of North America

Well before matters came to that crisis, The Bank of North America, similarly attracting risk money by paying interest, was established in 1781 with an additional feature of generating side revenue through commercial 30-60 day loans. It was brilliant politics since Congress (with difficulty) agreed to permit a private company to engage in commerce but would never have tolerated the government doing so. When the goal is to transfer money from the private sector to the public one, the public insists on the ability to limit the amount. Otherwise, the transfer is a confiscation. Morris soon realized there was a missing third step. If the wealth of the nation was pledged to repay the war debts, creditors would insist on knowing the government's plans for repayment in case the bank couldn't do it. With the states retaining the right to tax but refusing the Federal government the right to tax without permission, the bonds of the Bank of North America were riskier for investors than they needed to be. In the difficult later years of the war, dependence on French loans began to look unwise, so the inability of the Federal government to confiscate private assets began to worry creditors. Somehow, Morris seemed to think the unratified Articles of Confederation were the problem and forced their ratification five years late. It didn't help matters, however, finally making it clear that the debt problem could not be solved without a new Constitution. When the soldiers did start to revolt, it became absolutely necessary to do something. Ultimately, the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was the result. In the meantime, the United States almost did collapse after the Battle of Yorktown (1783), and the French Revolution of 1789 is plausibly blamed in large part on our failure to repay the huge French financial support of our independence. A nation which pledges its full faith and credit behind war bonds must somehow convince its creditors that it intends to repay its bondholders, almost as fully as it intends to survive the war.

of pledging the full faith and credit of the nation through imposing taxes as lender of last resort. You don't need to pay for the whole war with loans, but you do need to reassure creditors that you will tax to repay your debts rather than default on them. That is, loan repayment is placed "ahead" of taxation. If even that structure proves inadequate, well, your war is simply not winnable because it provokes a dissolution of the government. The American public in 1781 did not need to understand the logic; it had just watched the process in grisly action. The public would not accept banks backed by federal taxation except as a wartime expedient, and therefore Robert Morris failed in his most important proposal. Although he continued to press for this essential feature for nine more years until it finally succeeded, a second near-miracle was that he kept the nation solvent in the meantime. He achieved this with a breath-taking combination of expedients, energy, ingenious fixes, and bluff. But the Treaty of Paris did not come a day too soon. In characteristic fashion, he did a quick about-face and proceeded to manage a huge personal fortune during a post-war convulsion.

In late 1779, before Morris would accept the job of rescuing the finances of the floundering new Republic, however, he meant to set some things straight. Congress must therefore first agree:

-- That Robert Morris would not accept the job unless Congress agreed that he could retain all of his private partnerships. Ben Franklin had warned him how ungrateful the public could quickly become, and what a short memory it had for those who performed favors. The Congress was infuriated by such demands, but Morris was adamant. Lucky for him that he was, because his enemies soon emerged with that age-old question, "Yes, but what have you done for us, lately? " -- That Morris has the power to dismiss any and all persons concerned with public finances and the public tender laws, for a cause. --That it was acknowledged that he assumed responsibility only for new debts, not those which preceded his taking office. -- That he has the right to delay taking the oath of office, retaining his seat in the Pennsylvania Legislature, until the relationship was clarified to give him effective control of state finances.

It can be imagined how displeased the Congress was with these high-handed stipulations, but they agreed to them.

Within three days of assuming office, -- Morris announced plans for the Bank of North America, our first true bank. -- Asked two personal friends, Thomas Lowrey, and Philip Schuyler, to buy one thousand barrels of flour on their own credit. He added, "I must also pledge myself to you, which I do most solemnly as an Officer of the Public. But lest you like some others believe more in private than in public credit I hereby pledge myself to pay you the cost and charges of the flour in hard money." -- Argued eleven points against the issuance of more paper money, particularly its requirement to be accepted as legal tender: "Because the value of money and particularly of paper money, depends upon the public confidence, and where that is wanting, laws cannot support it, and much less penal laws. . . Penalties on not receiving paper money must from the nature of the thing be either unnecessary or unjust. If the paper is of full value, it will pass current without such penalties, and if it is not of full value, compelling the acceptance of it is iniquitous." -- Arranged for the sale of western lands, to raise money. -- Acknowledged the Army was owed its back pay. -- Changed the War, Marine, Treasury, Foreign Affairs from committees of Congress to permanent departments.

Signers of the Articles of Confederation

{Samuel Huntinton}
Samuel Huntington
{John Hanson}
John Hanson
{Daniel Carroll}
Daniel Carroll
{John Witherspoon}
John Witherspoon
{Jonathan Bayard} Jonathan Bayard
{William Clingan}
William Clingan
{Joseph Reed}
Joseph Reed
{Henry Laurens}
Henry Laurens
{William Henry}
William Henry
{Thomas Heyward}
Thomas Heyward
{Thomas McKean}
Thomas McKean
{John Dickinson}
John Dickinson
{Nicholas Van Dyke}
Nicholas Van Dyke
{John Hancock}
John Hancock
{Samuel Adams}
Samuel Adams
{Elbridge Gerry}
Elbridge Gerry
{Francis Dana}
Francis Dana
{James Duane}
James Duane
{Francis Lewis}
Francis Lewis
{William Duer}
William Duer
{Gouverneur Morris}
Gouverneur Morris
{William Ellery}
William Ellery
{Henry Merchant}
Henry Marchant
{Richard Henry Lee}
Richard Henry Lee
{John Banister}
John Banister
{John Harvie}
John Harvie
{Francis Lightfoot Lee}
Francis Lightfoot Lee
{Josiah Bartlett}
Josiah Bartlett
{John Penn}
John Penn

Richard Henry Lee: A Pennsylvania Viewpoint

{Patrick Henry}
Patrick Henry

Although Colonial Massachusetts was combative and outspoken in its demands for liberty, somehow, pacifist Quaker Pennsylvania still got along with Bostonians reasonably well. It was Virginia that was always in Pennsylvania's face, proud, loud and defiant. Patrick Henry was certainly one of Virginia's leaders, but most of the time it was the residents of Westmoreland County VA who wrangled with Pennsylvania, people with names like Washington and Lee. Some of this animosity had to do with competition for access to the Ohio territory through Pittsburgh, some of it was a strong difference in attitude toward the Indians, whom the Quakers sought to treat as equals. Eventually, there was a division over slavery. Arthur Lee had attended Eton College no less and was often the agent who acted out the repeated efforts to stir Pennsylvania from its torpor about rebellion against England. But very likely it was his brother Richard Henry Lee who schemed the most.

{Richard Henry Lee}
Richard Henry Lee

Richard Henry Lee was the author of the Westmoreland County Resolution of 1765, which essentially proclaimed to the neighbors that anyone who cooperated with the Stamp Act was going to be sorry about it. It was the same Richard Henry Lee who introduced the Virginia Resolution of June 1776, declaring that:

Americans are and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

Hotheads of Virginia and Massachusetts formed a political group at the Continental Congress, usually referred to as the Eastern Party. The leadership of a Moderate Party was less clearly defined, but Benjamin Franklin, John Dickinson, and Robert Morris probably qualified. It was almost pre-destined that Morris and Franklin would have trouble with the Lee brothers, especially when Arthur was the spokesman and Richard Henry the ringleader. Like cats and dogs, they seemed to have been some sort of genetic antagonism; topics under dispute tended to vary. No doubt, Robert Morris' enormous wealth and the ease with which he accumulated, even more, irritated the Virginia gentry whose tobacco farms were starting to exhaust their topsoil. For his part, Morris was not likely to be deferential, merely to their ancestry. Morris did sign the Declaration of Independence a month late, but under the circumstances, he could no longer vote for it; Richard Henry Lee had written the Virginia Resolution which glorified the very crux of it. A Secret Committee was soon formed to obtain arms and gunpowder, including Morris and Franklin; Richard Henry Lee saw to it that his brother Arthur was added. When Arthur was sent to watch out for Morris' agent Silas Deane in Paris, Arthur got sent along to stand guard, stirring up endless trouble with Foreign Minister Vergennes. When the Lees finally caught on to the system of sending American products to France on ships that would return with gunpowder, they wanted Franklin removed, Robert Morris' brother Thomas removed, and another Lee brother William added to the group in charge of exchanging goods with the Frenchman Beaumarchais, who was a particular Lee favorite. When Beaumarchais indicated a strong preference for tobacco as the product most in demand in France, it must have set off bells in Richard Henry Lee's head. The Lee home region of Westmoreland County in Virginia dominated the tobacco trade. But Robert Morris was himself a second generation tobacco trader; the Lees had little new to teach him about tobacco. Time and again, Morris defeated the Lee brothers in some such petty quarrels. Gradually, the Lees lost credibility, particularly after scholars began to discover evidence that when the Stamp Act was enacted, Richard Henry Lee had applied for the job of a local agent, and had been rejected.

The Lees were not always in the wrong. Thomas Morris was indeed a hopeless alcoholic and an extreme embarrassment to Robert. But a more fraternal relationship might have led to Lee helping Morris ease Thomas out while concealing his indiscretions; he could have made a friend of Robert Morris for life. Morris was certainly willing to play this game; he praised Arthur Lee in public for his assistance in monitoring the secret committee, a description which at this distance is simply hilarious. John Adams in Paris might be forgiven for taking Puritanical offense at Ben Franklin's exuberant Parisian high life. It is likely the Virginia Cavaliers looked at dalliance through the same lens as the Adams family, disliking Franklin and Morris for having a jolly time, and worse still being acclaimed for it.

Disorderly Retreat: From Trenton Back to Perth Amboy

{George Washington on a Horse}
George Washington on a Horse

A week later, they got a bad jolt; Washington declined to play by their winter rules. At the Battle of Trenton, Washington was 44 years old, six feet four inches tall or more, a horseman and athlete of outstanding skill, and as the husband of the richest woman in Virginia, accustomed to housing, feeding, transporting and getting cooperation from two hundred slaves. All of those qualities may have been of some use in the battle. But after the Battle of Trenton, Washington also emerged as a remarkably bold and creative General. In the Battle of Trenton ca-----------------999999 seen the elements of audacity, timing and courage that were notable in Stonewall Jackson, George Patton -- Virginians, both -- the Normandy Invasion, and the Inchon Landing. He forged, if he did not create, the American military tradition of inspired risk-taking. And he did it with a collection of starving amateurs, up against the best Army in the world at the time. Probably without realizing it, his coming victory at Trenton also gave Benjamin Franklin in Paris a major enticement for the French King to support the American cause. Washington produced a significant achievement, but just to make sure, Franklin exaggerated it just as much as he could.

On December 21, Washington thought Howe was immediately going to sweep on through Trenton to Philadelphia. In a day or two, he saw that wasn't the plan, organized the famous re-crossing of Delaware in bad weather, and caught and captured a thousand Hessians with a three-pronged attack which cut off their retreat and made resistance useless. The main military feature of this attack was not Christmas drunkenness among the Hessians, but the fact that General Knox had somehow transported eighteen cannon to the occasion. Nowadays, the event is marked by a reenactment on Christmas Morning, although it took place on December 26, 1776. The timing did not have to do with religious observance, it had to do with hangovers. To the great disappointment of his troops, he made them abandon the great stores of booze in Trenton because a second detachment of Hessians was in nearby Bordentown, and meanwhile, he retreated back to the Pennsylvania side of the river. As might be imagined, Howe's Cornwallis promptly came charging down from New Brunswick to exact bitter vengeance. Instead of trying to rescue their comrades in Princeton, the Bordentown Hessians took off for New Brunswick. Defiantly, Washington taunted his enemies by again recrossing Delaware to the New Jersey side, put up fortifications, just waited for them to make something of it.

Well, that's the way it was meant to seem. On the night of January 2, the two armies were facing each other with about five thousand men on both sides, but with the British much better trained and equipped. The Americans had the advantage of not being exhausted by a fifty mile forced march, except for about a thousand who had been deployed forward to skirmish and delay the British advance with sniping from the bushes. The Americans made a great deal of noise and lit many bonfires behind their fortifications. But when they advanced the next morning, the British found out where the Americans really were -- by hearing distant cannon fire coming from Princeton, ten miles back toward the north.

Washington had slipped five thousand men wide around the enemy flank during the night and had taken a parallel country road to Princeton where he defeated a rear guard of British at the Battle of Princeton. An infuriated Cornwallis wheeled his army around in pursuit, and the race was on for the supplies left undefended in New Brunswick. Washington might have been able to get there first, except his men were too exhausted, and he was afraid to risk his long-run strategy, which was to avoid head-on collisions with the main British Army.

So Washington went into winter quarters in Morristown still further to the north, and thousands of British soldiers were thus bottled up in winter quarters in Perth Amboy and New Brunswick, where scurvy, lack of firewood and smallpox gave them a few months to consider their miscalculations. But the most important action of all was getting the news to Benjamin Franklin in Paris, to tell the French king of the victory. Franklin even dressed it up a little.


REFERENCES


New Jersey in the American Revolution: Barbara J. Mitnick: ISBN-13: 978-0813540955 Amazon

Market Street, East (3)

James Madison

But wait. At Ninth and Market Philadelphia had once built the White House or at least a mansion for the President of the United States. Secret deals between James Madison and Alexander Hamilton had agreed to move the nation's capital city to Virginia in return for nationalizing the states' Revolutionary War debts, although the circumstance which made it acceptable to the public had been the Yellow Fever epidemic. After that happened, no amount of logic or log-rolling was going to keep the government in this city. Philadelphia vainly built a very elaborate mansion for the President, but President Washington never occupied it, and it was converted to housing the University of Pennsylvania. That University eventually tore it down and replaced it with two somewhat more suitable buildings, meanwhile using the Walnut Street Theater and the Musical Fund Hall, at Ninth and Walnut and Ninth and Locust Streets respectively, for commencement exercises and the like. No one can be completely certain, but it is felt by many that 9th and Market was the general area where Benjamin Franklin had flown his famous kite. This definitely later was the site of Leary's second-hand bookstall, which had the remarkable history that it was once run by a former Philadelphia mayor. Ninth and Market Street is now the site of a Post Office on one corner and a vacant lot on the other. But let the imagination wander a little, and see Ben Franklin, The White House, the University of Pennsylvania, and a former mayor tending a bookstall.

There is a restoration of the house, the very house, where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence at the corner of 7th and Market. Although hidden among the hulks of former department stores, some idea of the former elegance of the area is given by the description of stir raised by that rich young Virginian arriving in Philadelphia for the Continental Congress with his fancy carriage, team of horses, and several footmen. All of that colonial splendor has just about vanished in a sea of Victorian commercial architecture, which has in turn become merely a quaint relic. Over the front door of what was Lit's Department Store is still to be seen the mystifying motto, "Hats trimmed free of charge.", and today almost no one knows what that meant. At Sixth and Market, however, look out. The National Park Service brings colonial history crashing across Market Street, with tourists, a vista of Independence Hall, and lots of federal money. Dare we mention pork barrels? The whole subject of Independence National Park is so huge we must return to it several times, but just glance as you go through from City Hall to Penn's Landing.

Notice in particular the corner of Sixth and Market, where the real White House really stood. Robert Morris once had a mansion there, which Benedict Arnold occupied for a while after he was in charge of recovering Philadelphia from the British occupation, and subsequently both Washington and then John Adams lived there, as Presidents. Unfortunately, a fire took it away around 1830, and the remains were covered with trashy commercial buildings for decades, until the Park Service built a big public restroom there, now torn down. The current public furor about this site is truly remarkable, and the ample amounts of federal money our Senator has been able to obtain from the Appropriations committee on which he sits is probably a big factor in attracting interest. The main focus of dispute has to do with the fact that President Washington brought eight black slaves with him, and although he hastened to replace them with white indentured servants whose civil rights were probably no greater than slaves, the black slaves undoubtedly had to have lived somewhere. A search is on for the real, the true, the authentic slave quarters, as a suitable place for a public monument to their service to the country. The Park Service has a long reputation for defending scholarly standards, and its reluctance to accept archaeologically evidence of the slave quarters has brought down on their heads the furious response of the black community and the politicians seeking their favor. None of these latter groups can see any sense to quibbles about the precise location of Washington's outbuildings, just put up the monument, but for a while, it looked as though the scholars were determined to go down with their flags flying.

Several blocks further East, Market street comes to the brow of what was a cliff overlooking the Delaware, where the earliest settlers lived in temporary caves while they built houses. At the corner of Front and Market, from 1702 to 1883, stood the London Coffee House; during the Continental Congress, it was a place of high intrigue. The trolley lines once made a loop at the bottom of the hill at the river. Prior to that time, horse trolleys had to stop at the top of the hill at Front Street because the hill was too steep for them. At the lower level on the waterfront, there was a terminus for the ferry from New Jersey, bringing commuters, shoppers and farm produce from the Garden State. In time, a subway was built down Market Street, taking a sharp turn at the brow of the hill and heading off toward Frankford and the far northeastern parts of the city. The conjunction of the trolleys, the subway, and the ferries brought throngs of shoppers, mixing with other crowds emerging from three subways at 8th Street, still others from two train stations at 13th Street, and trolleys or buses at every one of the fourteen cross streets. This fourteen block strip was surely a great place to sell dry goods. But today, with the ferry terminal gone and the trolleys vanished, it is mainly a question whether the foot of the hill at the Delaware River is destined to become a museum or an amusement park.

Howe's Choice: To Philadelphia, or Saratoga?

{General Howe}
General Howe

Nations at war traditionally vilify the leader of the enemy, and so Sir William Howe has usually been portrayed as a lazy, illegitimate uncle of the King, a womanizer lacking in military savvy, and a former parliamentary member of the minority party supporting peace with the colonies. But to go on this way is quite unfair to Washington, who outfoxed and out-generaled a tough and very clever soldier who was by no means a pushover, and who fought hard to win.

{Winter 1777}
Winter 1777

In retrospect, it can be seen that Howe's army was crammed into winter quarters on the Perth Amboy-New Brunswick bluff across the river from Staten Island in the winter of 1777, following the defeat at Trenton. Washington's troops were meanwhile in a fairly impregnable position around Morristown. If Howe went back along the Raritan toward Trenton and Philadelphia, he could expect to be butchered by snipers behind trees. If he embarked on his ships, he would be vulnerable during the two days of so required to break camp and load the ships. Washington's problem was actually just as bad. He had no way of knowing whether he had to defend against an encircling movement at Morristown, against a renewed invasion toward Trenton and Philadelphia, or against a quick movement at sea by the battleships. If Howe embarked, he might be going to Albany to rescue Burgoyne, or to Fort Lee to encircle Morristown, or to Philadelphia, or even to Charlestown. Anyone of these choices would mean that Washington would have to hurry overland to catch him.

It now seems clear that Howe had decided it was safe to abandon Burgoyne. He might have tried to capture Philadelphia and get back to Albany by September, but evidently, this seemed too ambitious and fraught with unexpected accidents, as events later proved to be true. Clear and unambiguous orders by Lord Germain in London were mislaid and never reached him. By implication, he was being told to use his best judgment. So he decided on a double option. He would send sorties out in all directions to keep Washington guessing and to entice him to come down from his mountain fastness into a pitched battle with British regulars. Failing that, he would get on his ships and take Philadelphia. Furthermore, Howe never told another soul what his plans were, except by sending a spy with misleading plans sewed into his coat, intending for him to be captured by the rebels. Washington, however, essentially refused to budge.

Finally, Howe ordered an embarkation onto his ships, and actually loaded a contingent of Hessians on board. Although Washington was mistrustful of a trick, his officers persuaded him to attack the "vulnerable" British while they were loading onto the transports. As soon as Howe heard of Washington's movement he immediately issued orders to turn the whole army around and trap Washington. He thought he now had his chance to catch and destroy the Continental army.

As things turned out, it didn't work and Washington escaped with most of his troops. Fearful of another such trap, he then held back perhaps too long and helplessly watched the ships load, weigh anchor, and sail out to sea. Where were they going? Not another person on the British (or Loyalist) side knew the answer, and the ships were far out to sea, invisible before they turned in whatever direction they were going. Was it North, or South?

A week later, word came to Washington that the fleet had been sighted off the mouth of Delaware. It was time to move South, in a big hurry, on foot. Howe was going to go to Norfolk, but it wasn't even certain whether he was coming back up the Chesapeake, or going still further South to Charleston. It remained conceivable that he would wait for Washington to move his troops South, then double back to New York and Albany to Join Burgoyne.

As we now know, Howe did turn up the Chesapeake to land in the rear of Philadelphia. And then Washington also guessed right and lined up his troops at Chadds Ford of the Brandywine Creek. Both of them were shrewd and very quick. Howe had won a major victory with superior resources. But as we shall see, Washington wasn't through with him.


REFERENCES


The Uncertain Revolution: Washington and the Continental Army at Morristown: John T. Cunningham: ISBN-13: 978-1593220280 Amazon

Perpetual?

George Washington
Was he the 11th President
of the United States?

We must be indebted to Stanley L. Klos for his recent book called President Who? in which he makes a persuasive case that George Washington was actually the eleventh President of the United States, there have been ten previous Presidents under the Articles of Confederation. The awkward fact that the Articles were not ratified until 1781, is a different sort of issue which possibly helps explain some of the confusion.

In general, the attitude had been that the ten previous Presidents had merely been the presiding officers of Congress, holding an office we might now call Speaker. Indeed, the President under the Constitution doesn't "preside" over anything definable, although the Vice-president clearly presides over the Senate, at least on the infrequent occasions when he is in the room. All of this would seem to be nit-picking wordplay by history hobbyists, except for one thing.

{http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/article_confederation_lg.jpg}
Lincoln raised the issue
whether states who ratified
the Articles of Confederation,
among other documents, were
bound in perpetuity
to be members of
the United States.

Abraham Lincoln was having a hard time finding a reason to challenge South Carolina's right to secede, which was later depicted by the state as simply revoking its previous ratification of the Constitution in 1789. If they could join the Union, they could un-join the Union, so, Goodbye.

Not so, said Lincoln. When South Carolina ratified the Articles of Confederation in 1778, those Articles clearly stated the Union was to be perpetual, or at least the Articles uniting the colonies were to be so. Articles of Confederation: Article XIII. Every State shall abide by the determination of the United States in Congress assembled, on all questions which by this confederation are submitted to them. And the Articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the Union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterward confirmed by the legislatures of every State. That sounds pretty perpetual to most readers, making the Constitution merely a clarification of details, or at most an amendment to the Articles of Confederation. There is a strong implication that the intent of Article XIII was to prevent individual states from making a separate peace with Great Britain, or Britain from claiming conquered territory was no longer American.There's no doubt the Articles do say perpetual and no doubt South Carolina signed them. However, it is equally certain that Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas did not sign the Articles. Six hundred thousand casualties later, this fine legal dispute was settled in Lincoln's favor, but not before the Gettysburg Address further muddled Constitutional Law by proposing in effect that the Declaration of Independence formed the basis for the Constitution. However, a speech at a ceremony hardly qualifies as a national ratification, and the Gettysburg Address did not achieve much acclaim for several more decades, suggesting later politicians were doing some special pleading, To include either the Declaration or the Gettysburg Address in a discussion of Constitutional intent is to ignore a lot of contemporary history. Many of the clauses and even some of the wording of the Constitution is taken directly from the Articles to the Constitution, whereas the claim tracing origin in the Declaration of Independence is based on the conflict between the two in the "All men are created equal" versus the later assignment in the Constitution of only 3/5 of a vote for slaves. The party of Thomas Jefferson can only make the claim that the Declaration made an assertion which was later overturned by the Constitution, only to be reversed again by the Civil War and the Fourteenth Amendment. Only the Articles and the Constitution itself can claim to have been intended as a system of governance, with at least some attempt made to obtain general ratification, followed by long periods of conforming to them, to display even stronger ratification. It may be humanitarian, but it is not good history to assert that a Declaration is Law.

So now Philadelphia has two large, competing, institutions at either end of a long grassy Mall on Sixth Street, Chestnut to Vine. Each has a paid staff, busily organizing new points of view in competition for legal authority as well as visitors. One really must wish that Lincoln had found some other legal theory to justify military action. The Articles of Confederation, which were anyway not fully ratified until 1781, established a military alliance of thirteen otherwise fairly autonomous states. The Constitution, beginning with the words We, the People, created a nation of citizens, in 1788.

There's quite a difference, and the second was emphatically based on dissatisfaction with the first. It thus is a favorite theme for those who argue for a "living" Constitution, in which any change at all is legitimate if enough people clamor for it. My own view of this, if anyone cares, is that our Union is the only example in history where a number of viable sovereign states voluntarily and permanently surrendered their powers to become a "more perfect union". Many others have tried to do the same, starting with the French Revolution and continuing with the United Nations and the European Union. So far, every other attempt has been a failure. So I am very reluctant to see us tinker with the Constitution because the invisible balances are so subtle and largely unspoken. It may not be perfect, but so far it is unique in being the only one that seems to work. Such pious worship of a mystery seems to offend a lot of people, so let's get a little more pointed.

The greatest enemy of the Constitution at the time it was formed was Thomas Jefferson, the Ambassador to France at the time of the French Revolution, which he much admired. Jefferson was reluctant to confront George Washington, so his resistance to the Constitution was circumspect. However, he formed a political party with the main principle of opposing strong central government. One of the activities of his party was to start to celebrate July 4 as a National holiday and to downgrade the importance of Washington's birthday as one. There can be little doubt that Washington's birthday has been dropped from the national calendar and replaced by President's Day, while the celebration of July 4 continues to be an occasion for speeches and fireworks. John Adams engaged in a long correspondence with Jefferson after both had stepped down from the Presidency. While the two made their peace with each other on many subjects, Adams never forgave this celebration of the Declaration as a sacred text, when in fact he believed it had little to do with history and was outspoken in his scorn for its importance. One can only imagine the apoplectic speech Adams would give today if he could come alive and comment on the dilution of Washington's birthday with Lincoln's, diminishing the memory of both. And as for his scorn for dating the beginning of the Revolution to July 4, 1776, when in fact fighting had been going on at Lexington, Concord, Bunker Hill and other places for years, well. If it comes to a battle of documents, a respectable case can be made that the beginning of the Revolutionary War was in December, 1775 when the British Parliament passed the Prohibitory Act, effectively declaring war on the rebellious colonies, meanwhile dispatching a war fleet of several hundred ships to America to subdue us.

Revolt of the Pennsylvania Line

{Pearls on the String}
Pennsylvania Line

The Hudson Valley is not exactly within the bounds of Philadelphia culture and influence, those invisible geographical limits of this group of essays. The revolt of the starving, unpaid Revolutionary soldiers which took place there in 1780 was of tremendous importance to the formation of the nation but would be excluded from present consideration except for one thing. It was the Pennsylvania Line which led the revolt of the Continental Army.

Robert Morris Has a Mid-Life Crisis

{Robert Morris}
Robert Morris

The feudal system once consisted of Kings awarding aristocrats a title of nobility attached to a region of inhabited land, usually as a reward for military assistance. Because of this link between their wealth and their land, almost no aristocrats migrated to America, so almost no American can now claim hereditary noble descent. What developed instead was the gentry. Regardless of the often unclear sources of their wealth, it was presumed to have arisen from some ancestor's merit, and could only be inherited if it could be made to renew itself. The vast expanses of America cheapened the value of undeveloped land, so the gentry could seldom support a gentry lifestyle without additional employment of some sort. Their children went to college, an experience originally developed for training ministers, who were expected to be the nation's leaders in balance with the tradesmen, who made no secret of their own self-serving. The expectation of community leadership for the gentry outlasted its original attachment to religion, so the non-religious gentry moved about with an air of superiority which others envied but increasingly resented. The novels of Jane Austen are filled with depictions of this sort of person during a period when they were actually rapidly disappearing. The primitive financial system and the enduring mythology of the aristocracy struggled to guide the income sources of this gentry into tracts of resalable land, where they lived off dividends, profits, and rents. Rentiers. Not quite tradesmen, but not genuine aristocrats, either.

Unfortunately, the huge abundance of land in the New World soon cheapened its value to a point where it could not support a lifestyle of entitlement along with contempt for mere tradesmen. This is the explanation often offered for the virtual disappearance of the lifestyle of the Gentleman by the time of the Civil War. The situation was rescued by the invention of corporations; a single man or family no longer could supply all the capital needed to exploit the available commercial opportunities, so corporate ownership was shared with others. Ownership of shares in corporations provided a new stream of income and a new storehouse of wealth, and it also freed the gentleman from ties to a big estate of land. The Jane Austen variety of gentleman thus virtually disappeared but remained as a mythical model for the highest aspirations in the early 19th Century. Robert Morris, orphaned and illegitimate, wanted very much to be an immensely rich gentleman even though that was becoming a contradiction of terms. And although he had virtually been in charge of the whole nation during the Revolution, he wanted very much to be looked to as a leader, then defined as some variant of a theologian. Much of this ambivalence was due to his never going to college, the same guilt which haunted George Washington. Neither of them had sufficient college-educated relatives to appreciate how little college has to do with it. A great deal probably did have to do with historical animosities between Eastern and Western Pennsylvania, between Quakers and Presbyterians, between memories of lingering hatreds among Irish tribes along Ireland's northern border. And yes, between anthracite and bituminous coal. Mountains seem to foster wild behavior, and there are a lot of mountains in Central Pennsylvania.

{Adam Smith, who published The Wealth of Nations}
Adam Smith: Nature and Causes of The Wealth of Nations

The outcome of these commotions, as well as others unrecognized, was highlighted by the constant difficulties Robert Morris had in the Pennsylvania legislature, contrasted with his comparative ease in both the local Philadelphia political scene and the national one. Only at the state level did it seem that everyone was against him. Particularly so were Findlay and Smilie, western Pennsylvanians who hated him for his self-made wealth but refused to acknowledge the abilities it must surely represent. Like the Lees of Virginia, they asserted the burden of proof was on him, to prove he had not stolen his wealth. After all, all tradesmen were petty cheaters, so a very rich tradesman must be a big cheater. And even setting that aside, he had an odor of sanctity, an air of superiority, which they could not abide. There was even a centrality to this matter resting on Adam Smith, who published The Wealth of Nations in 1776. Smith argued that good things grew out of vigorous competition, and definitely not from altruism. Although Morris was sufficiently taken with Smith's arguments to give copies to his friends, he would not surrender the point that wealth was not necessarily proof of merit, just because merit sometimes led to wealth. Findlay freely admitted he was opposed to the re-charter of the Bank of North America in order to promote the self-interest of western farmers. What flabbergasted Morris was to hear his motives vilified for favoring the re-charter when he owned shares of the bank. Nowadays, everyone would feel astounded if a corporate executive did not vigorously defend his company; but in those days he stood shame-faced to admit he could not possibly be a gentleman and do such a thing. He, therefore, decided to prove his honor by taking an astonishing step. One of the richest men in America sold out his business to prove to these wizened backwoodsmen that he was truly acting like a gentleman. It would be hard today to find anyone who would not describe his action as that of a damned fool.

Robert Morris, Financial Virtuoso

For reader convenience, we here divide Robert Morris' financial rescue of wartime America into two parts before and after 1780, because he had two episodes of being officially in charge. The first immediately followed the Battle of Fort Wilson when chaos and worthless paper money required a strong hand; it will be described next. The second episode followed the later near-revolt of the Continental Army but has already been outlined. Here, Morris was recalled to the office with chaos erupting at the end of the war came in sight and everyone was reluctant to fight battles for no military purpose. At the same time British, French and American politicians connived for victory in a war each had failed to win militarily. For simplicity, time sequences have been distorted a bit, concentrating the creation of modern banking into the second episode, where failure to coordinate banking with taxation ultimately led to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Chronology has been sacrificed to enhance clarity. It is now time to return to the brilliant expedients Morris employed after he took charge following the Fort Wilson shocker, omitting some of the banking details already described.

What helped the first crisis most was the ready availability of a financial genius to turn around a crisis, when just about everyone else was at a total loss. Robert Morris had made his fortune, probably the richest man on the continent, and nursed the grievance of crowd abuse at the Battle of Fort Wilson. He had some novel concepts to test; it is not too much to say he showed them off, particularly since they displayed a man in charge with prodigious energy, applying a financial virtuosity of seemingly unlimited ideas. No one else came close to Morris in stature, and he must be forgiven for flaunting it a little.

{Robert Morris}
Robert Morris

At the climactic moment, however, Morris played coy. He was not so sure he would accept the office of Financier, a term newly invented for the occasion. Accepting Ben Franklin's cynical assessment of the future, he wanted everyone to be clear: he was not going to give up his private partnerships. And he insisted on his right to hire and fire anyone at all within the government bureaucracy who was concerned with public money. He accepted responsibility for new debts of the government, but not for old debts incurred before he took office. He would furthermore delay taking the oath of office for a few months. These conditions naturally generated wild opposition in Congress; Morris was serene, and Congress finally had to agree. Most of these terms had some obvious purpose while making no secret of his distrust of Congressmen. In fact, the opposition might well have hardened its position if the purpose of delaying the oath had been fully expressed. Morris wanted to delay becoming a federal officer in order to delay resigning from the Pennsylvania Assembly. During the interval, he applied similar power tactics to the Legislature, ending up simultaneously in charge of both state finances and federal.

{Yorktown: Oct. 19, 1781}
Yorktown: Oct. 19, 1781

That purpose was soon to emerge, as just one instance of many tough tactics. Inflation tossed and turned the finances of everyone, so Morris would buy with one currency and sell with another, taking advantage of brief fluctuations, then quickly reverse the currency transaction when advantages shifted. He arranged with the French and Spanish ministers to keep their loans and foreign aid in separate accounts, applied the same techniques with state accounts, and even between near and distant counties within Pennsylvania. He thus had a choice between many currency values at any one moment. His far-flung commercial network supplied him with more precise information than his counterparties could get, and usually more quickly, so his trading activities were usually profitable. One rather extreme example was the arrangement with Benjamin Franklin in Paris; Morris would write checks to Franklin in one currency and Franklin would write identical deposits back to him on the same day but a different currency. He thus extended ancient practices among international merchants, carrying them over to government operations, which had the effect of creating a modern currency exchange. To outsiders, however, particularly his political enemies in Massachusetts and Virginia, it looked fishy. To modern observers, the astonishing thing was his ability to keep such complexity in his head. The political class which even today sees it as natural that governments might want to manipulate currency as they please might describe Morris strategies as dubious. Those who believe the market price is usually the true price however, must applaud this strategy for forcing manipulated prices back to market levels. Since here has rested the central dispute in American politics for two centuries, Morris must be credited with inventing even that dispute. One would normally suppose that doubling the silver price of American currency in two months would vindicate his trading strategy; but it has not always done so, suggesting the nature of the questioning has been more ideological than economic.

Within days of assuming office, the "legal tender" laws were repealed, stripping government of the ability to force its citizens to accept the worthless currency, impose rationing and price controls, and otherwise assume the mantel of "sovereignty". Like a miracle, food began to reappear in the Philadelphia marketplace at a lower price, and confidence in the competence of government began to return. To whatever degree the British ministry had been deliberately stalling the peace talks in the hope of American collapse, this incentive was dissipated.

The list of financial innovations which Morris produced in a remarkably short time, is seemingly endless. He next became central in the creation of the first American bank of the modern sort, the Bank of North America. And somewhere in that welter of activity appears to be the recognition of the so-called yield curve. Loans for a few weeks or months command a much lower interest rate than long-term loans; in the colonial period, almost all loans were for six months or less. Morris seems to have realized early that great profitability could be achieved by merging a sequence of several short loans into one long one. He thus devised a number of strategies which had the general effect of linking short loans together. Using the remittance for a transatlantic cargo in one direction as payment for the return cargo on the same ship was an early example. Once you grasped the idea and did it deliberately, long sequences of linked loans began to suggest themselves. Just to complete the thought, it might be noticed that present-day globalization reverses the process, with shorter-term loans for components substituting for longer-term loans for the entire assembled product. With lower interest rates, competitive prices can be reduced, unless a choice is made to increase profits.

There's one last issue in Robert Morris folklore: Did he finance the whole Revolution out of his own pocket? The answer is surely no because Beaumarchais ended up spending much more than any other individual, however involuntarily. The degree to which hard currency originated with the French, Spanish and American governments is a little unclear, and war damages are impossible to appraise. There were moments when Morris did personally finance major cash shortages, adding the considerable advantage of speeding up what could be a cumbersome process of budgeting, committee consideration, disputes, and hesitation. Where it was feasible, he sought restitution. Every bureaucrat has experienced delays and obstructions he dreams of eliminating by simply paying for it himself; Morris had the advantage that within reason, he could afford it.

As a very rich man, his more important personal contribution was his pledge to make good if the Treasury defaulted. Creditors generally preferred his credit to that of the government; his pledge was to pay if the government could not. His "Morris Notes" were not paying, but rather reinsuring government debts, in modern terms offering a Credit Default Swap. If we lost the war and our debts defaulted, Morris would have lost everything he had. But short of that, his pledge would result in much smaller losses. The public couldn't be expected to understand all that, so some simplified explanations were understandable. There were probably a number of similar examples, but near the end of the war, there was a particularly clear one. The Continental Army was very close to revolt when it looked as though Congress would disband the soldiers without paying them; there was no money but unpaid demobilization would likely send rioting soldiers through the countryside. Morris came forward with a million dollars of his own money and saved the day. Washington was forced to make emotional speeches appealing to the patriotism of the troops, but with most of the army barefoot, that was not certain to hold them back. Under those circumstances, to come forward later like Arthur Lee and remind everyone that Morris had once refused to sign the Declaration of Independence, was ingratitude of the meanest sort.

The accusation made after the war was that he profited from government losses, but there has never been evidence of that. His position was that he came out about even. Unspoken in these quarrels was the plain fact that until he got involved in the post-war real estate boom, he didn't need to cheat. Probably didn't even have time for it.

The Revolutionary War continued for two years after Morris took office for the second time, so war losses continued in spite of improved financial management. Both the French Government and the American one were at the edge of bankruptcy. Britain was also in political chaos, but it was only small consolation that Parliament had granted Independence to the Colonies when King George III remained adamant that it wasn't going to happen to his colonies. Strengthened by the British defeat of the French Caribbean fleet, the capitulation by the Spanish about Gibraltar, and great uncertainty about the Crimea and India -- almost anything was possible. Eventually, matters began deteriorating again. The British even then had the financial strength to hold out much longer, but obvious neglect of other opportunities eventually wore them down. Morris seemed to be winning, just by not losing.

In the midst of such anarchy, Morris had to admit his greatest failure as the Financier but was already formulating his plan for setting things on their feet. The Revolutionary War as seen by a financier had either been won by the British system of taxation or else lost by the American and French lack of such a system. It was irrelevant whether the War was described as a defeat for Britain or a victory for America; in Morris' view, the British had a good system and we had a poor one. No nation can finance a major war out of current receipts; you have to borrow. Your security for loans is the economy of your nation. Even if your illiquid assets are adequate for the war, the banking markets regard your ability to pay cash for the interest on the loan as their only reliable test of your solvency. That is, a nation at war must have the ability to keep the bankers happy with regular interest payments. For that, a nation had to have a proven system of reliable taxation. Britain had it, and the American/French alliance didn't. Franklin's masterful diplomacy was just lucky enough to achieve generous terms, but that wasn't good enough, we had to have a Federal tax system to survive and thrive. And to achieve that, we had to have a new Constitution. Never mind that resentment about British taxes got us into this mess. Never mind the chaos attending the Treaty of Paris. Never mind the war-weariness, bitterness, and destitution of the troops. Never mind that Morris was now about to embark on one of the most mind-boggling real estate ventures in history, was going to go to debtor's prison, was going to engage in millions and millions of dollars of borrowing and restitution. Never mind. We needed a new Constitution, and we were going to get it. Think big.

Robert Morris, In Charge By Popular Demand

Robert Morris was in charge of the nation's finances (his title was Financier) for two intervals following two landmark emergencies: the Battle of Fort Wilson was one, and the threatened mutiny of the Pennsylvania Line of the Continental Army was the other. There was an interval without Morris in office in 1780. Both emergencies grew out of monetary panics, so a financial leader seemed a natural choice. Morris was in fact in charge of almost everything non-military, for the peculiar reason that we had no designated chief executive. The Continental Congress had a President, but the activities of the country were actually run by congressional committees. Morris wasted no time replacing this system with permanent departments under his supervision, so it is not too much to say his wartime role was acting chief executive. The improved efficiency of this approach was so evident the Constitutional Convention of 1787 seems to have spent little time arguing against continuing it, although lurking anti-Federalists never got over the idea that something had been put over on them. For reader convenience, we here take mild liberties with the chronology of individual initiatives, preferring instead to center around the two crises. The first of these, immediately following the Battle of Fort Wilson, was worthless paper money ("not worth a Continental") inflation, with soaring prices, futile price controls, and consequent false shortages of necessities. The second episode followed the later near-revolt of the Continental Army, and it was essentially a deflation provoked by the French running out of money to support us, and real shortages of necessities. Here, Morris had to cope with the end of the war in sight, but in fact not ending. Everyone was reluctant to fight battles without military purpose but unable to return to farming. Credit and hard currency reserves were exhausted. At the same time British, French and American politicians connived for advantage after a war each had failed to win militarily. By this route, having earlier described the creation of modern banking, we arrive at the cluster of clever expedients which Morris handled like a juggler as he raced from inflation to deflation, and back.

{Robert Morris}
Robert Morris, Financier

The revolt of the Pennsylvania Line, along with Washington's clear sympathy for his soldiers, threw the Continental Congress into a panic. Their own responsibility for the crisis, as well as their lack of any clear idea about what to do about it, were as obvious to the public as to themselves. The approaching result went beyond a mere disgrace, and might even lead to a dictator, or God saves us, another king. A decade later, this crisis might have suggested to some that a guillotine should be set up behind the State House on Chestnut Street. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson made some remarks which might be taken in just that way. The soldiers themselves put an end to that sort of wild talk. British General Clinton sent some emissaries to the American Army, looking around for some deserters to turn Tory. The soldiers promptly executed the emissaries. George Washington, Morris' best friend, played his ambiguous position like a master. He was ultimately responsible for maintaining order, but his sympathies with the soldiers' complaint were obvious. Calling the officers together, he made the theatrical gesture of pulling off his glasses, intimating that he was going blind in his nation's service. Since his eyes served him very well for the next decade, that was unlikely. Although it is possible he believed what he was saying, most certainly the officers did.

What helped the perplexing monetary situation most was the ready availability of a financial genius to turn it around; there was no real need for others to understand it. Robert Morris had made his pile, probably the richest man on the continent, and he had the grievance of having been rejected from office after the Battle of Fort Wilson. He also had the perfectly normal motive of wishing to hold things together until the Paris peace negotiations could restore order. He had some novel plans which he wanted to try; it is not too much to surmise he wanted to show them off, particularly since their central feature would require his prodigious energy, applied to his seemingly unlimited succession of ingenious solutions. No one else even came close.

At this critical moment, Morris played coy. He was not so sure he would accept the office of Financier, a term newly invented for the occasion. Accepting Ben Franklin's cynical assessment of the future, he wanted everyone to be clear that he was going to retain his private partnerships. And he insisted on his right to hire and fire anyone he pleased within the government bureaucracy who was concerned with public money. He would accept responsibility for new debts of the government, but not for old debts which were incurred before he took office. He would delay taking the oath of office for a few months. These conditions generated a storm of opposition in Congress; Morris was serene about that, and Congress finally agreed to his terms. Most of these terms had an obvious purpose, making no secret of his distrust of Congressmen. However, the opposition might have hardened its position if the purpose of delaying the oath had been fully expressed. Morris wanted to delay becoming a federal officer in order to delay resigning from the Pennsylvania Assembly. During the interval, he applied the same power tactics to the Legislature, ending up in charge of administering state finances in parallel with his federal duties.

{October 19, 1781}
Yorktown: Oct. 19, 1781

The purpose was soon to emerge, as just one instance of a general approach. As inflation tossed and turned the finances of just about everyone, Morris would buy with one currency and sell with the other, taking advantage of transient fluctuations in their respective values, then quickly reverse the currency transaction when the advantages shifted. He arranged with the French and Spanish ministers to keep their loans and foreign aid in separate accounts, doing the same thing with state accounts, and even near and distant counties within Pennsylvania. He thus had his choice of a number of currency values at any one moment. His far-flung commercial network supplied him with more precise information than his counterparties could get, and usually more quickly, so his trading activities were quite profitable. One rather extreme example was the arrangement with Benjamin Franklin in Paris; he would write checks to Franklin in one currency while Franklin would write identical deposits back to him on the same day but a different currency. He thus expanded ancient practice among international merchants. Carrying it over to government operations had the effect of creating a modern currency market. To outsiders, however, particularly his political enemies in Massachusetts and Virginia, it looked fishy. To modern observers, the astonishing thing was his ability to keep such complexity in his head. The political class which even today sees it as natural that governments might want to manipulate currency as they please would regard Morris strategies as reprehensible. Those who believe the market price is the true price however, must applaud this strategy for forcing manipulated prices back to market levels. Since here has rested a central dispute in American politics for two centuries, Morris must at least be credited with inventing the dispute. One would normally suppose that doubling the silver price of American currency in two months would vindicate this trading strategy; but it has not, suggesting the nature of the opposition has been more ideological than economic.

Within days of assuming office, the "legal tender" laws were repealed, stripping government of the ability to force its citizens to accept the worthless currency, impose rationing and price controls or otherwise assume the pose of "sovereignty". Like a miracle, food began to reappear in the Philadelphia marketplace at a lower price, and confidence in the competence of government began to return. To whatever degree the British ministry had been deliberately stalling the peace talks in the hope of American collapse, even that incentive abated.

The list of financial innovations which Morris produced in a remarkably short time, is seemingly endless. He was central in the creation of the first American bank of the modern sort, the Bank of North America. And somewhere in the welter of activity appears to be the recognition of the so-called yield curve. Loans for a few weeks or months command a much lower interest rate than long-term loans; in the colonial period, almost all loans were for six months or less. Morris seems to have realized early that great profitability could be achieved by stringing a series of short loans into one long one. He thus devised a number of strategies which had the general effect of linking short loans together. Using the remittance for a transatlantic cargo in one direction as payment for the return cargo on the same ship was an early example. Once you grasped the idea and did it deliberately, long sequences of linked loans began to appear. Just to complete the thought, it might be noticed that globalization reverses the process with shorter-term loans for components rather than longer-term loans for the entire assembled product. With lower interest rates, prices can be reduced, unless a choice is made to increase the profits.

There's one last issue in Robert Morris folklore: Did he finance the Revolution out of his own pocket? The answer is surely no because Beaumarchais ended up spending much more than any other individual, although involuntarily. The degree to which hard currency originated with the French, Spanish and American governments is a little unclear, and war damages are impossible to summarize. There were moments when Morris did personally finance major cash shortages, adding the considerable advantage of speeding up what could be a cumbersome process of budgeting, committee consideration, disputes, and hesitation. Where it was feasible, he sought restitution. Every bureaucrat has experienced delays and obstructions he wished he could eliminate by simply paying for it himself; Morris had the advantage that in an extremity, he could afford it.

The more important contribution was his pledge to make good. Creditors generally preferred his credit to that of the government; his pledge was to make good if the government defaulted. His position was that of reinsuring government debts, or in modern terms offering the equivalent of a Credit Default Swap. If we lost the war and our debts defaulted, Morris would have lost everything he had. But short of that, his pledge would result in much smaller losses. The public couldn't be expected to understand all that, so some simplified explanations were understandable. There were probably a number of similar examples, but near the end of the war, there was a particularly clear one. The Continental Army was very close to revolt when it looked as though Congress would disband the soldiers without paying them; there was no money to pay them but demobilization would likely send rioting soldiers through the countryside. Morris came forward with a million dollars of his own money and saved the day. Washington was forced to make emotional speeches appealing to the patriotism of the troops, but with most of the army barefoot, that was not likely to suffice. Under those circumstances, to come forward like Arthur Lee and remonstrate that Morris had once refused to sign the Declaration of Independence, was ingratitude of the meanest sort.

The accusation made after the war was that he profited from government losses, but there has never been any evidence of that. His position was that he came out about even. Unspoken in these quarrels was the plain fact that until he got involved in the real estate boom, he didn't need to cheat. Probably didn't have time for it.

The Revolutionary War continued for two years after Morris took office, so war losses continued in spite of improved financial management. Both the French Government and the American one were at the edge of bankruptcy. Britain was also in political chaos, but it was small consolation that Parliament had granted Independence to the Colonies when George III was adamant and intransigent in his opposition to any such idea. Strengthened by the British defeat of the French Caribbean fleet, the capitulation by the Spanish about Gibraltar, and great uncertainty about the Crimea and India -- almost anything was possible. Eventually, matters were deteriorating again. The British had the financial strength to hold out much longer, but the neglect of other opportunities eventually wore them down. Morris seemed to be winning, just by not losing.

In the midst of such anarchy, Morris had to admit his greatest failure as the Financier but was already formulating his plan for setting things on their feet. The Revolutionary War as seen by a financier had either been won by the British system of taxation or else lost by the American and French lack of such a system. It was irrelevant whether the War was described as a defeat for Britain or a victory; in Morris' view, the British had a good system and we had a poor one. No nation can finance a major war out of current receipts; you had to borrow. Your security for the loan was the economy of your nation. Even if your illiquid assets were adequate for the war, the banking markets regard your ability to pay cash for the interest on the loan as the only reliable test of your solvency. That is, a nation at war must have the ability to keep the bankers happy with regular interest payments. For that, a nation had to have a proven system of reliable taxation. Britain had it, and the American/French alliance didn't. Franklin's masterful diplomacy was just lucky enough to achieve permanent independence, but that wasn't good enough, we had to have a Federal tax system. And to achieve that, we had to have a new Constitution. Never mind that resentment about British taxes got us into this mess. Never mind the chaos of the Treaty of Paris. Never mind the war-weariness, bitterness, and destitution of the troops. Never mind that Morris was about to embark on one of the most mind-boggling real estate ventures in history, was going to go to debtor's prison, was going to engage in millions and millions of dollars of borrowing and restitution. Never mind. We needed a new Constitution, and we were going to get one. Think big.

Robert Morris, Land Speculator

{Alexander Hamilton}
Alexander Hamilton

IN 1782, Robert Morris the Superintendent of Finance of the United States, produced a paper called "On Public Credit", which was the model for Alexander Hamilton's more famous paper with the same name. His interest in the topic almost surely grew out of the idea of selling America's abundant land to finance the Revolutionary War. It was obviously a tempting idea, but a fairly unworkable one under wartime conditions, particularly since the great abundance of American land depressed its price for long-term speculators, compared with European land. A price of fifteen or twenty cents an acre required huge parcels of land to justify the problems associated with deriving a profit from it as an intermediary, and created a myriad of other problems dealing with the end user; in 1782 it just wouldn't work.

{Henry George}
Henry George

By 1792 it was perhaps workable because the boundaries of the nation were more clear, but generated the problems of a rolling frontier, associated with steep and volatile differentials of price and safety. If the end user was an impoverished immigrant, the seller was necessarily tangled in protracted periods of refinancing. The issues of slave territory and free territory close by generated local peculiarities of land use and optimum parcel size. Those who gave close attention to the complexities of the novel situation could see the close relationship between the credit of the nation, and the value of its land mass, the ultimate definition of what the nation really was. Thus in time, the single tax idea of Henry George would be an idea that kept coming up for discussion, long before Henry George popularized the concept of placing all taxes on immobile land. The nation was the land it owned, and the land couldn't move. So Morris and Alexander Hamilton wrestled with devising ways to base the credit of the nation on its land wealth, without the complexities of doing so directly. In 1782 such ideas were only dreams, but by 1792 a clever person might work out ways to manage it.

{Robert Morris}
Robert Morris

As the opportunities of suddenly having undisputed ownership of most of a continent began to clarify, Morris was rearranging his own life. He had accomplished most of his vision of what the nation should be like and had resolved his internal conflicts about the meaning of being a patrician in a democracy, by selling off his business. No matter how strange it may seem to us that being a shipping merchant was disrespectable, while real estate speculation was an acceptable gentleman's occupation, that was apparently how he saw it. His many associations put him in contact with many opportunities, and soon he acquired the parcel of land in upstate New York abandoned by the exterminated Iroquois. Generally called the Genesee territory, the combination of smallpox and General Sullivan's famous march had greatly reduced the tangled arguments about the title to the land, and the sales went very well, netting him roughly $350,000 unadjusted for inflation. If Morris had quit the business right then and there, he had a fair chance of living the rest of his life among the richest men in America.

Lest the impression persist that Morris got into financial difficulty entirely by real estate speculation, a letter he wrote to Gouverneur in 1790 celebrating the Genesee agreement exulted, "This bargain will not only be the means of extricating me from all the embarrassments in which I have become involved, but also the means of making your Fortune and mine."

In 1794 the Asylum Co. was founded by U.S. Senator Robert Morris and John Nicholson, Pennsylvania Comptroller General, to develop and sell lands in northeastern Pennsylvania. Although it was rumored that Marie Antoinette was to be housed in the 1600 acres on the North branch of the Susquehanna River near the present Towanda, she had actually already been executed in late 1793. In 1795 Nicholson succeeded to Morris' interest, and three years later Morris was put in debtor' prison. In 1802, Napoleon invited all French emigrants to come home, and only a few stayed behind in Azilium. The Asylum Co. soon dissolved.


REFERENCES


Robert Morris: Financier of the American Revolution: Charles Rappleye: ISBN-10: 1416570926 Amazon

John Head, His Book of Account, 1718-1753

{American Philosophical Society}
American Philosophical Society

Jay Robert Stiefel of of the Friends Advisory Board to the Library of the American Philosophical Society entertained the Right Angle Club at lunch recently, and among other things managed a brilliant demonstration of what real scholarship can accomplish. It's hard to imagine why the Vaux family, who lived on the grounds of what is now the Chestnut Hill Hospital and occasionally rode in Bentleys to the local train station, would keep a book of receipts of their cabinet maker ancestor for nearly three hundred years. But they did, and it's even harder to see why Jay Stiefel would devote long hours to puzzling over the receipts and payments for cabinets and clock cases of a 1720 joiner. Somehow he recognized that the shop activities of a wilderness village of 5000 residents encoded an important story of the Industrial Revolution, the economic difficulties of colonies, and the foundations of modern commerce. Just as the Rosetta stone told a story for thousands of years that no one troubled to read, John Head's account book told another one that sat unnoticed on that library shelf for six generations.

{Colonial Money}
Colonial Money

The first story is an obvious one. Money in colonial days was mainly an entry in everybody's account book; today it is mainly an entry in computers. In the intervening three centuries, coins and currency made an appearance, flourished for a while as the tangible symbol of money, and then declined. Although Great Britain did not totally prohibit paper money in the colonies until 1775, in John Head's day, from 1718 to 1754, paper money was scarce and coins hard to come by. Because it was so easy to counterfeit paper money on the crude printing presses of the day, paper money was always questionable. Meanwhile, the balance of trade was so heavily in the direction of the colonies that the balance of payments was toward England. What few coins there were, quickly disappeared back to England, while local colonial commerce nearly strangled. The Quakers of Philadelphia all maintained careful books of account, and when it seemed a transaction was completed, the individual account books of buyer and seller were "squared". The credit default swap "crisis" of 2008 could be said to be a sharp reminder that we have returned to bookkeeping entries, but have badly neglected the Quaker process of squaring accounts. As the general public slowly acquires computer power of its own, it is slowly recognizing how far the banks, telephone companies, and department stores have wandered from routine mutual account reconciliation.

http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/johnhead.jpg
John Head's Account Book

From John Head's careful notations we learn it was routine for payment to be stretched out for months, but no interest was charged for late payment and no discounts were offered for ready money. It would be another century before it became routinely apparent that interest was the rent charged for money and the risk of intervening inflation, before final payment. In this way, artisans learned to be bankers.

And artisans learned to be merchants, too. In the little village of Philadelphia, chairs became part of the monetary system. In bartering cabinets for the money, John Head did not make chairs in his shop at 3rd and Mulberry (Arch Street) but would take them in partial payment for a cabinet, and then sell the chairs for the money. Many artisans made single components but nearly everyone was forced into bartering general furniture. Nobody was paid a salary. Indentured servants, apprenticeships trading labor for training, and even slavery benignly conducted, can be partially seen as efforts to construct an industrial society without payrolls. Everybody was in daily commerce with everybody else. Out of this constant trading came the efficiency step for which Quakers are famous: one price, no haggling.

One other thing jumps out at the modern reader from this book of account. No taxes. When taxes came, we had a revolution.

www.Philadelphia-Reflections.com/blog/1517.htm

Sources of Revolutionary Populism

{Founding Fathers}
Founding Fathers

Those who now look back at the Founding Fathers often fail to account for the aging process during the eleven years between the Declaration of Independence in 1776 to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The two events took place in the same building, Independence Hall, and many participants of the Convention were fellow Revolutionary War veterans. But there was originally a great social difference between a colonial leader and a teen-aged soldier at the beginning of this period, which tended to seem blurred by the experiences of the war. Someone who fought and was wounded as a common soldier might later grow into the dignity of a former war hero, but underneath this veneer was a very different experience from an early leader of the colonial rebellion, or after the onset of serious hostilities, an older man who seemed eligible to be a Revolutionary officer. The original generation of rebels conspired to restore proper British rights for individual colonies, while the teenager who fought in the Continental Army under his idol George Washington saw himself as fighting for the freedoms of individuals, living in a new nation.

What emerged were two generations of Founding Fathers, one of which was generally an officer fighting for the right of his state to be fairly represented, the other a young common soldier, fighting for the individual right of free speech. One wanted to protect his colonial region's religion, the other wanted the freedom to choose his own religion. Both of them felt entitled to say how things were to be run, but young men eventually become older men. No better example of aging's transformation of attitudes could be found than the life of John Marshall. This teenaged wounded veteran of the Battle of Trenton evolved into Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the author of a multi-volume biography of George Washington, and almost the last man standing who could be called a Federalist. Other teenaged soldiers took different paths in life.

History belongs to the victor, so it is also important to recollect that almost a third of the colonists had been Tories. In general, the upper crust of society tended to be more loyalist. Thousands of Loyalists fled to Canada, and thousands more fought on the British side. When General Clinton abandoned the occupation of Philadelphia, three thousand Loyalists accompanied him. The loss of these more educated and wealthier citizens and the lowered public profiles of those who remained in America skimmed off a considerable portion of the natural leadership of the colonies. Those young men who were left behind were victors, often exhilarated to discover that if they did not lead, no one would lead.

The embodiment of these population shifts was to be found in state governments with unicameral legislatures, popular election of judges, and weak executives -- all of which have since been repudiated by experience, but all of which reflect a distrust of leaders. Partly this might be attributed to lack of experience, greater reliance on collective government by the herd instinct, the recklessness of youth, and fear that power will eventually return to the hands of those who are educated to handle it. The hostility of the lower classes to those who are better off has many causes, but in this situation, it was promoted by unexpected elevation to leadership, combined with a subsequent determination not to lose power again -- balanced against the rather strong possibility that they would. Add to this the continued influx of immigrants fleeing from foreign oppression, and it is not surprising that the result is an enduring strain of populism stirring up a latent tendency to class warfare. You, too, can be President; but you must fight if you expect to succeed. The former aristocratic attitude was that you are born to rule, as long as you don't do something stupid.


REFERENCES


The Great Courses: History of the United States, 2nd Edition Course #8500: Lecture 14 Creating the Constitution: Aurthor: Allen C. Guelzo: ISBN: 156585763-1 The Great Courses

Quaker Mary Dyer and Algernon Sydney

Prohibitory Act of the British Parliament

Apparently New England and Parliament had been negotiating over fishing rights, but it is not clear from the available correspondence whether this was a sincere effort to link New England to the former English Civil War or whether John Adams was conducting a pretense. Nor is it clear whether the omission of Parliament was a deliberate snub or merely a casualty of the poor communication. The tone suggests that Adams was openly chafing for war, while Dickinson at least maintained more diplomatic obscurity.

In any event, the huge naval response was certainly more warlike than the correspondence, and Adams was rather pleased to shift responsibility for initiating hostilities to the Mother country. There is no mention of the legalities of Westphalia in an Act which was both brief and heedless.

Armonica, Momentarily Mesmerizing

{Ben Frnklin Glass Armonica}
Ben Franklin's Glass Armonica

Everyone knows Ben Franklin spent a lot of time holding a wine glass. Evidently, he noticed a musical note emerges if you run your finger around the open mouth of the drinking glass, and systematically studied how the tone can be varied by varying the level of liquid in the glass. The same variation in emitted tone relates to variations in the thickness of the glass. So, he set up a series of different sized glasses impaled on a horizontal broomstick, enough to cover three octaves, rotated the broomstick with a treadle like those used for spinning wheels -- and made music. The tone has a haunting penetration to it, which induced both Beethoven and Mozart to write special compositions for the harmonica, and the Eighteenth Century went wild with enthusiasm.

{http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/glass-armonica.jpg}
Glass Armonica

Unfortunately, a number of the young ladies who played the armonica went mad. We now recognize that since the finest crystal glass was used, with very high lead content, the mad ladies were suffering from lead poisoning after repeatedly wetting their fingers on their tongues. As a matter of fact, port wine at that time was stored in lead-lined casks, resulting in the same unfortunate consequences, which included stirring up attacks of gout. Franklin himself was a famous sufferer from gout, which was more likely related to the port wine than playing the harmonica, in his particular case.

Anyway, the reputation for inducing madness added to the spooky sort of sound the instrument made, attracting the attention of a montebank named Franz Anton Mesmer, who falsely claimed to be the father of hypnotism. Mesmer enhanced the society of his stage performances by hypnotizing subjects while an assistant played the harmonica, meanwhile relating all sorts of wild tales about animal magnetism. This was pretty sensational at the time until a young man in an audience suddenly died. It is now speculated that the victim probably had an epileptic seizure, but the news of this public fatal event pretty well finished Mesmer as an evangelist and the harmonica as a musical instrument.

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Franklin Court

There's a replica of an armonica on display in the Franklin Court Museum around 3rd and Chestnut, which we are vigorously assured is not made with leaded crystal glass. The Park Rangers put on two daily performances by request, at noon, and 2:30 PM.

Perth Amboy Revisited

Perth Amboy

It's now moderately complicated to find Perth Amboy, New Jersey, even after you locate it on a map. Like New Castle DE it flourished early because it was on a narrow strip of strategic land, and like New Castle, eventually found itself cut off by a dozen lanes of highways crowded together by geography. It's an easy drive in both cases only if you make the correct turns at a couple of crowded intersections. Both towns were important destinations in the Eighteenth century, but by the Twentieth century, both were pushed aside by traffic rushing to bigger destinations. Industrialization hit the region around Perth Amboy somewhat harder than New Castle, destroying more landmarks, and bringing to an end its brief flurry as a metropolitan beach resort. If you aspire to preserve your Eighteenth-century glory, it's easier if you don't have too much progress in the Nineteenth. In Perth Amboy's defense, it must be noted that Jamestown and Williamsburg, Virginia had just about totally disappeared when noticed by Charles Peterson and John Rockefeller, but neither of those towns was run over by Nineteenth century industrialization. So, while New Castle has treasures to preserve and display, Perth Amboy seems to have only the Governor's mansion like the one notable building to work with. William Franklin, the illegitimate son of Benjamin, was the royal governor installed in this palace shortly before 1776.

Governor's mansion in Perth Amboy

While it is true that some wealthy local inhabitants did a lot to restore and maintain New Castle (and Williamsburg), the Governor's mansion in Perth Amboy was bought and made the home of Mathias Bruen, who is 1820 was thought to be the richest man in America. If Bruen had only had the necessary imagination and generosity, this was probably the best moment for Perth Amboy to have had a historical restoration. Instead, he added some unfortunate features to the mansion; it later became a hotel, and later on, an office building. Public-spirited local citizens are now trying to set things right, but the costs are pretty daunting. Someone has to find an inspired Wall Street billionaire like Ned Johnson to make over an entire town. Occasionally, a state government will do it, as has been done with Pennsbury. Or a national organization might become inspired, as happened with Mt. Vernon and Arlington. Its present state of peeling paint and makeshift repairs suggests uninterest in Perth Amboy's Governor Mansion by the State, and the absence of whatever it is that occasionally inspires fierce and determined local leadership. Perth Amboy needs some help and needs to forget about its handicaps. Sure, it's hard to commute anywhere, it's even hard to drive across the highways to the countryside. The bluff on the promontory was once quite arresting, now a rusting steel mill occupies that spot. Other than that, it doesn't look ominous or dangerous at all. It's just forgotten.

Pennsbury Mansion

Aside from the Royal Governor's former mansion, it is hard to find a historical marker or monument in this scene of former prosperity and glory, but there is one. Down on the beach is a bronze plaque, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the founding of -- Argentina. So there's a clue, which is not difficult to associate with all of the Hispanic names on the stores, and the Hispanics in evidence on all sides. They all seemed to know that this was once the capital of New Jersey, seemed pleased with it, and could point out the famous building. They are pleasant and friendly enough. Perhaps even a little too comfortable. Because, as William Franklin's famous father once said, all progress begins with discontent.

Parliament Provokes a Revolution

In some medical circles, it is postulated that George III was psychotic, possibly suffering from an inherited rare condition called porphyria.

{http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/Magnacarta2.jpg}
Magna Carta

That's pretty conjectural, but it is certainly true that his mother egged him on to be a real king, a real force reversing that steady decline in the Monarchy's personal power which began with the Magna Carta. By the time in question, however, so much power had already gravitated into the hands of Parliament that the King could not act in any major way without their consent. Even today, Cabinet Ministers are spoken of as King's ministers but are in fact appointed by leaders of the majority party in Parliament. Some in Parliament, like Edmund Burke, were almost persuasive in resisting the Ministry, urging colleagues to seek reconciliation with the colonies. George III did still retain the power to appoint his favorites to important positions and used this patronage extensively to control the country. Political party chieftains, on the other hand, retained and retain today the power to nominate the party candidate for Parliament in any particular district. The leadership thus selects the members of Parliament, who can, in turn, overturn the leadership only if they dare. Real decisions were largely in the hands of party chieftains, but perhaps to some extent, the Crown, depending on the Monarch's shrewdness in distributing patronage among the party chieftains.

Across thousands of miles of dangerous ocean, the English colonies had changed from the weedy wilderness in the Sixteenth century, into thriving and prosperous small civilizations in the early Eighteenth. Transatlantic communication did not substantially improve in that interval, but colonial population grew to over a million, many of them native-born in the colonies, with increasingly large numbers of immigrants from other nations. Loyalty to the Monarch inevitably declined. True, they spoke English, revered England, but many urgent local issues were difficult to administer at such a distance, encouraging a mentality of self-governance. France, by now at war with England on the Continent, operated on a grand plan of interior encirclement, from Quebec and and Great Lakes, down the Mississippi to New Orleans. The English coastal settlers needed peace with the Indians of the interior;

{http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/Bfranklinportait2.jpg}
Benjamin Franklin

the French did not scruple to stir up massacres and Indian warfare. All wars are expensive, the French and Indian war particularly so. After defeating the French, the British were put to the protracted expense of building frontier defenses. Although the British were anxious to attract English-speaking colonists who would defend America for England, it was obvious some of the settlers were becoming very rich. Surely these people could not object to paying taxes for their own defense. In retrospect, it seems remarkably naive of the British to think it was that easy. Americans did not want to pay taxes because they did not want to pay taxes. They settled on the stance of "No taxation without representation" and like Franklin and the Penn family, many really believed in it. That slogan was particularly effective after it became apparent that Parliament wasn't about to give remote colonists reciprocal power in Parliament to interfere with affairs in the British Isles. With Parliament adamantly refusing to dilute its own power, "No taxation without representation" was a neat rhetorical box which meant, "No taxation." Contemporary English historians now throw up their hands in despair that so few members of George III's government had Burke's vision or even the normal wiles of diplomacy. But that understates the hidden political agenda. Parliament just pushed ahead with fairly nominal taxes, but they did so to curtail the independence of colonial legislatures.

The Stamp Act of 1764. It could be argued that Navigation Acts nothing new; earlier versions were first passed in 1651, intended to thwart Dutch trading. They prohibited foreign trade with the British home islands. After fifty years in 1703 similar restraints were extended to trade with the colonies, particularly molasses in the Caribbean area. No outcry was made as these restraints, aimed at retaining the Britishness of British colonies, were occasionally modified and extended over the next sixty years.

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Thomas Penn

After a century in 1764, however, the Stamp Act was passed, producing modest revenue but imposing a crippling set of headaches by requiring special papers to transact private business. The uproar was enormous and legitimate, focused mostly on the tangle of red tape needlessly imposed. By shifting taxation from trade to paperwork transactions, suspicions were plausible that the Ministry was scheming something obscure. The Stamp Act was hastily repealed, even before Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Penn recognized its unpopularity and were still to some extent defending it in 1766. Franklin apparently saw the Stamp Act as an opportunity to appoint his friends as stamp agents. Local uproar in Pennsylvania was apparently orchestrated by William Bradford, who in addition to having been Franklin's former competitor in the printing business, was the owner of the London Coffee House at Front and Market. No other prominent colonial leader seems to have been involved in the agitation, and it is remotely conceivable that uproar originated with Bradford alone. More likely, Bradford was merely an opportunist in a genuinely popular uprising. With the familiar maneuvering characteristic of politicians, Franklin took popular credit for defeating the Stamp Act with some skillful criticism of it, while John Penn gained credit with the King for representing Pennsylvania's relative calm about it, compared with other colonies. In Pennsylvania at least, the uproar quickly subsided after the repeal of the Act.

The Townshend Navigation Acts of 1768.In 1766 the Grenville Ministry was replaced by that of Rockingham, then soon by Pitt, who were anxious to disavow the unpopular Stamp Act, but nevertheless needed colonial revenue, and needed a few unpleasant laws to prove that Parliament could not be intimidated by colonial squawking.

{http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/TOWNSHEND2.jpg}
Charles Townshend

Charles Townshend, the brilliant, vindictive, Chancellor of the Exchequer then proposed taxes on glass, painter's lead, paper, painter's colors, and tea. The underlying political purpose of these taxes was to provide revenue for paying British colonial administrators directly, rather than depend on the Colonial legislatures to pay them. The Legislatures had long played a game of withholding payments, sometimes even the salaries of Judges and Royal Governors, when they disapproved of projects devised in London. The very predictable uproar provoked by the Townshend Acts propelled John Dickinson into prominence with a pamphlet called Letters From a Pennsylvania Farmer, which popularized the idea of "nonimportation", essentially a boycott of British products. Unintentional nonimportation was in fact the effect of the laws, clogging the ports with paralyzed trade goods. Rather than Dickinson's lofty principles, a little-noticed act of 1764, prohibiting the printing of paper money, paralyzed trade. There simply was not enough available coinage to pay these taxes, which finally pushed the primitive transaction system beyond its capabilities. From the viewpoint of modern economics, a heavy unbalance between imports and exports could not be rebalanced by flows of capital. The disastrous Townshend Acts were mostly repealed in 1770, but the British government was getting in deeper and deeper, discrediting itself at every turn. To retreat but still save face, they repealed all the taxes except the one on tea.

The Tea Act of 1772. To a certain degree, the uproar over the face-saving tax modifications on tea was a pretext for confused but radical colonists who were spoiling for a fight about difficulties they tended to personalize. The act actually lowered the effective taxes on tea, and at first Whig radicals were hard put to find a reason for outrage about lowering the price of tea. However, Bradford and his London Coffee House cronies (Mifflin, Thomson) were imaginative, and soon stampeded a mob scene in Philadelphia, where for a time the populace had seen nothing to get worked up over. Rush and Dickinson joined the chorus; the public feeling was stirred to a frenzy not easily reversed.

The really substantive issues involved were created by several years of Townshend Duties and other forms of import restriction. Laws to ensure the Britishness of British colonies created pleasant opportunities for colonial artisans and craftsmen, difficult hardships for importers. But these dislocations, whether welcome or unwelcome, firmly exposed the underlying truth that they caused all colonists to pay higher prices for goods. Adam Smith was not to publish his Wealth of Nations until 1776, so in this case the proof preceded the theory. The colonists were effectively asked to pay higher prices for everything, in order to increase Britishness and to billet soldiers they could not command. Once that cat was out of the bag, attitudes could never be the same. On the English side of the ocean, the question was framed as colonist unwillingness to contribute to the cost of their own defenses. The two slanted perceptions hardened to the point where arrogance confronted defiance, suggesting combat to both of them.

In the case of tea, taxes and import restrictions were intended to promote English tea over Dutch tea; in fact, they stimulated smuggling. Smuggling grew to a point that vast quantities of tea were stranded in the warehouses of the British East India Company, and trade balances of the British Empire were undermined. By reducing taxes, Parliament made East India tea cheaper than smuggled tea. Going perhaps one step too far, middle-men in the tea import business were cut out of the loop by appointing favored direct agents. In Philadelphia, those were Henry Drinker and Thomas Wharton. Bradford and his group immediately set about intimidating these merchants with threats to burn them out, and the sea captains who worked for them, with threats of tar and feathers. The age of Reason was leaving Reason behind.

Poor Richard Plays Hardball 628 :

Several distinguished biographies of Benjamin Franklin have recently skirted his January 1774 confrontation with the British government in the "Cockpit" of Whitehall. Presumably, the exquisite details are too fancy and complicated for easy description, or possibly the cardinal significance of this intellectual duel is underestimated. It seems possible the American Revolution was declared by one man's making up his mind. A mind made up in one particular hour in one particular room, irrevocably, in front of the whole British Establishment.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was there, and so were Edmund Burke and Joseph Priestley. So were all the Privy Council, and most of British high society, giggling and hissing at his discomfort. Poor Richard stood there silent and impassive. The Enlightenment thought they were deciding his fate, but he was deciding theirs.

{Privateers}
Lord Alexander Wedderburn

Franklin had published some letters he had promised not to publish, but they showed the British government in a very bad light. Alexander Wedderburn the Solicitor-General had deliberately orchestrated the meeting to shift the emphasis to Franklin's broken promise and away from British provocation of it. The room had been packed with highbrows promised a delicious treat, and Wedderburn's speech was meticulously planned as an entertainment for the intelligentsia. The man who discovered electricity was mocked as "conducting" the letters. And a famous man of letters was reminded that the ancient Athenians would brand three letters on the back of the hand of a thief: FUR, the name for a thief, an elaborate 18th Century pun making reference to fur hats and collars, which were the traditional symbol of printers. Wedderburn roused himself to the climactic announcement that the famous Roman, Plautus, had invented the famous derivative epithet, "Homo, triumph literarum," portentously meaning a three-letter man. The galleries of Whitehall tittered and applauded this thrilling attack. Franklin continued to stand, his face perfectly inscrutable to the end.

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Deplessis Portrait of Benjamin Franklin

In his report back to the Massachusetts Legislature, Franklin used dismissive understatement to show he had not been asleep while he was impassive. He had been, he said, "the butt of his invective ribaldry for nearly an hour." After that, Poor Richard seemed to disappear from British society for nine months, seeing only close friends in his house, and then he sailed home to America, becoming a member of the Continental Congress the day he stepped off the boat. Meanwhile, he had arranged to have his portrait painted by Duplessis, the most distinguished painter in France, eventually to have it hang next to a painting by the same artist, of the King of France. To the original sketch for the portrait had been added a fur collar, the traditional emblem of the painter's guild. At the bottom, where a motto ordinarily would be found, was the single, three-letter Latin word, "VIR," or man, which would today be equivalent to he-man. And just so everyone would get the point, Franklin sent an otherwise anonymous letter to the newspapers, signed "Homo Triumph Literarum" in which he taunted that the friends of Mr. Franklin would have to agree he was a thief, as in the famous line of poetry that "He stole the lightning from the skies." But old Ben wasn't just bragging. Anticipating the baseball player Dizzy Dean by two hundred years, he was in effect saying "It ain't braggin' if you really have done it."

On Feb. 6, 1778 he and Silas Deane went over to the French palace to sign the Treaty of Alliance with the King of France. Instead of his usual brown suit, Franklin was wearing a faded blue one, and Deane questioned why he wore old clothes to such an important ceremony. "To give it a little revenge," was the answer. "I wore this suit on the day Wedderburn abused me at Whitehall." The true depth of Franklin's feelings would never have been known if Deane had not asked.

As a reminder, the Treaty they were signing said, "The essential and direct end of the present defensive alliance is to maintain effectually the liberty, sovereignty, and independence of the said United States. . . ." All in all, not a bad academic performance for a man who never went past the second grade in school.


REFERENCES


The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution,and The Birth of America, Steven Johnson ISBN: 978-1-59448-852-8 Amazon

Franklin Declares Independence a Year Early

Joseph Priestly became a close friend of Benjamin Franklin almost as soon as they met. Priestly was an Anglican clergyman who broke loose and formed the Unitarian Church, and meanwhile, his scientific discoveries also entitle him to be called the Father of Chemistry. Franklin, of course, was the discoverer of electricity; it would be hard to be sure which of the two was more brilliant. In July, 1775, Franklin wrote the following letter to Priestly, which makes a trenchant case that the American colonies should, and would, break away from England. Since some legal authorities, following Lincoln's lead, maintain that Jefferson's manifesto "informs" the United States Constitution, it might be well to begin referring to this letter as an even clearer statement of the mindset of America's founding leaders.

{http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/ThomasGage.jpg}
General Thomas Gage

" Dear Friend (wrote Franklin),

"The Congress met at a time when all minds were so exasperated by the perfidy of General Gage, and his attack on the country people (i.e. Of Lexington and Concord), that propositions of attempting an accommodation were not much relished; and it has been with difficulty that we have carried another humble petition to the crown, to give Britain one more chance, one opportunity more of recovering the friendship of the colonies; which however I think she has not sense enough to embrace, and so I conclude she has lost them forever.

"She has begun to burn our seaport towns; secure, I suppose, that we shall never be able to return the outrage in kind. She may doubtless destroy them all; but if she wishes to recover our commerce, are these the probable means? She must certainly be distracted; for no tradesman out of Bedlam ever thought of increasing the number of his customers by knocking them on the head; or of enabling them to pay their debts by burning their houses.

"If she wishes to have us subjects and that we should submit to her as our compound sovereign, she is now giving us such miserable specimens of her government, that we shall ever detest and avoid it, as a complication of robbery, murder, famine, fire, and pestilence.

"You will have heard before this reaches you, of the treacherous conduct to the remaining people in Boston, in detaining their goods, after stipulating to let them go out with their effects; on pretence that merchants goods were not effects; -- the defeat of a great body of his troops by the country people at Lexington; some other small advantages gained in skirmishes with their troops; and the action at Bunker's-hill, in which they were twice repulsed, and the third time gained a dear victory. Enough has happened, one would think, to convince your ministers that the Americans will fight and that this is a harder nut to crack than they imagined.

"We have not yet applied to any foreign power for assistance; nor offered our commerce for their friendship. Perhaps we never may: Yet it is natural to think of it if we are pressed.

"We have now an army on our establishment which still holds yours besieged.

"My time was never more fully employed. In the morning at 6, I am at the committee of safety, appointed by the assembly to put the province in a state of defense; which committee holds till near 9, when I am at the Congress, and that sits till after 4 in the afternoon. Both these bodies proceed with the greatest unanimity, and their meetings are well attended. It will scarce be credited in Britain that men can be as diligent with us from zeal for the public good, as with you for thousands per annum. -- Such is the difference between uncorrupted new states and corrupted old ones.

"Great frugality and great industry now become fashionable here: Gentlemen who used to entertain with two or three courses, pride themselves now in treating with simple beef and pudding. By these means, and the stoppage of our consumptive trade with Britain, we shall be better able to pay our voluntary taxes for the support of our troops. Our savings in the article of trade amount to near five million sterling per annum.

"I shall communicate your letter to Mr. Winthrop, but the camp is at Cambridge, and he has as little leisure for philosophy as myself. * * * Believe me ever, with sincere esteem, my dear friend, Yours most affectionately."

[Philadelphia, 7th July, 1775.]


REFERENCES


The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution,and The Birth of America, Steven Johnson ISBN: 978-1-59448-852-8 Amazon

Philadelphia in '76

{Privateers}
Spirit of '76

Although the origins of the American Revolution are subtle and complex, even historically controversial, we have more or less united in the idea that we "declared" our independence from Britain on July 4, 1776. We then spent eight years convincing the British we were serious and have been independent ever since. Reflect, however, on the fact that fighting had been going on for a year in Massachusetts, and that Lord Howe's fleet had set sail a month before the Declaration, actually landing on Staten Island at just about the same time as the Fourth of July. Add to that the fact that only John Hancock actually signed the document on July 4th, and some of the signers waited until September. You can sort of see why John Adams never got over the idea that Thomas Jefferson had quite a nerve implying the whole thing was his idea. What's more, New England subsequently had to live with a President from Virginia for thirty-two of the first thirty-six years of the new nation. Philadelphia may have been the cradle of Independence, but that was not because it was a colony hot for war, dragging the others along with it. It was the largest city in the colonies, centrally located. It had a strong pacifist tradition, and it had the most to lose from a pillaging enemy war machine.

New England was in the position of having started hostilities, and about to be subdued by overwhelming force. The Canadians were not going to come to their aid, because they were French, and Catholic, and enough said. What the New Englanders wanted was WASP allies, stretching for two thousand miles to the South. By far the largest colony was Virginia, which included what is now Kentucky and West Virginia; it even had some legal claims for vastly larger territory. The rest of the English colonies had plenty of assorted grievances against George III, and almost all of them could see that America was rapidly outgrowing the dependency on the British homeland, without any sign that Parliament was ever going to surrender home rule to them. Perhaps it was unfortunate that New Englanders were so impulsive, but it looked as though a confrontation with the Crown was inevitably coming, and without support, New England was likely to be subdued like Carthage.

And then, the last hope for flattery and diplomacy, for guile and subtlety, stepped off the boat. Benjamin Franklin, our fabulous man in London, had it "up to here" with the British ministry. He finally was saying what others had been thinking. It was now, or never.

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Tom Paine: Rabble-Rousing Quaker? 692:: Blog 692:

{Privateers}
Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was born of Quaker parents, which makes him a "birthright" Quaker. Children born into Quaker families are accustomed to the subtleties of speech and behavior of that religious sect, ultimately growing up to be the main nucleus of tradition. Knowing what they are getting into, however, they are more likely to rebel against it than others who, coming to the religion by choice rather than by birthright, are commonly described as "Convinced Friends."

These stereotypes may or may not explain some of Tom Paine's paradoxes. He certainly was not a pacifist, a quietest, or a plain person. He was an important historical figure; Walter A. McDougall, the famous University of Pennsylvania historian, feels the American colonists might have sputtered and complained about Royal rule for decades, except for Paine. The American Revolution happened when it happened because Tom Paine stirred up a storm.

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Common Sense

According to the traditional way of telling his story, Tom Paine was a ne'er do well failure in London. He ran into Benjamin Franklin, who advised him to emigrate to America in 1775, and within a year his pamphlet called ""Common Sense"" had sold 150,000 copies (some even claim 500,000), galvanizing the public and the Continental Congress into action on July 4, 1776. George Washington read Paine's writings to his troops on the eve of the Battle of Trenton. After that, Paine got mixed up with the French Revolution, and apparently became a severe alcoholic, proclaiming atheism all the way. Although Thomas Jefferson remained friendly to the end, Benjamin Franklin essentially told him to go leave him alone, and Washington would cross the street to avoid him. According to the usual line, Tom Paine was a big-mouthed rabble-rouser and a drunk, who traveled the world looking to stir up revolutions.

However, that cannot possibly be a fair recounting of the whole story. Thomas Alva Edison, whose opinion certainly counts for something, regarded Tom Paine as one of the greatest American inventors, creating the first steel bridge, the first hollow candle, and the principle of central drought in heating. Paine early became a close friend of the Hicks family, the central figures in modern Quakerism; it seems a little unclear how much Tom Paine was reflecting the views of Elias Hicks, and how much Hicksite Quakerism can be said to have originated in the thinking of Thomas Paine. Paine was very far from being an atheist. In fact, both he and Hicks believed so fervently in the universality of God that both of them scorned the rituals, paraphernalia, and transparent superstitions of -- religion.

Furthermore, Paine was able to reach the rationalists of The Enlightenment with arguments which cut to the heart of Royalist loyalties. America was too big and too remote to be ruled by a king, particularly one who abused his privileges behind a claim of divine right. href="http://www.britannia.com/history/monarchs/mon22.html">William the Conqueror, for example, never denied he was a usurper. One way or another, every king must earn his throne. So, as for feudalism and hereditary aristocracy, what was King George doing with all those German mercenaries? After two centuries of democracy, most Americans are too far from feudalism to appreciate the legitimacy of military meritocracy. Whatever King George was up to, he didn't stand for empowerment of the best and the brightest Englishmen, who in fact might well be opposed to him. If you wanted to get to Virginia aristocrats, Boston sea captains, and Kentucky backwoodsmen, that was exactly the line to take in Common Sense.

Unfortunately, Citizen Tom Paine was a freethinker and couldn't be quiet about it in his later books. He didn't like the way the Old Testament Hebrews hungered for a king. He didn't like the way the New Testament sprinkled miracles on top of unassailable moral principles, and he particularly didn't like the claim that God got an unmarried girl pregnant. He antagonized almost every established religion by proclaiming that no one should make a living from religion. He wrote a book called href="http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/thomas_paine/age_of_reason/part1.html">Age of Reason proclaiming all these freethinking ideas, which struck Ben Franklin as such a stupid thing to do that he would not discuss it, beyond saying that even if he should succeed in convincing people to abandon religion, just imagine how much worse they would probably behave without it. George Washington, who hadn't a trace of intellectualism about him, more accurately portrayed the typical American revulsion at anyone who was so unprincipled as to say such unorthodox things in public. Jefferson distanced himself for political reasons rather than intellectual ones. Franklin thought Paine was a fool. Washington and the rest of the country thought he was a viper.

It would have to be conceded -- by anyone -- that Tom Paine was self-destructive, even sassing Robespierre while in a French prison. How is it such a loose cannon could get the American public off dead center and make the Continental Congress grasp the nettle of revolution, in less than a year? Let's go back to how he came to America in the first place. Franklin sent him.

Then he promptly got a job as editor of the Pennsylvania Gazette, which Franklin had owned for thirty years. And then, in an era when the largest city in America had a population of twenty-five thousand, and the printing presses of the day were able to turn out three or four pages a minute, he sold 150,000 copies of the fifty-page "Common Sense." Who but Franklin, in private partnerships with sixty printers, could have possibly authorized, financed, and printed 150,000 copies of a colonial pamphlet? In order to find that much printing capacity in colonial America, a great deal of other printing had to lose its place in the queue.

Even today, a best-seller is defined as a book that sells 50,000 copies, and it generally takes three years to get it done. In the Eighteenth Century, for an unknown alcoholic to get off the boat and find a publisher for a best seller in a few weeks is hard even to imagine. Unless he had important help.

Battle of the Clouds: September, Remember

{hurricane}
Dilworthtown

Weather satellites, television and so on have taught us much about hurricanes that was unknown in 1777. Benjamin Franklin, it should be noted, was the first to observe that Atlantic Coast "Nor'easters" actually begin in the South and work North, even though the wind seems to be blowing in the opposite way; what's moving toward the northeast is a low-pressure zone. We now know that hurricanes begin in Africa, travel West and then veer North when they reach Florida. A great deal is still to be learned about hurricanes, but the most important thing about their timing is contained in a maritime jingle:
June, too soon.
July, stand by.
And then: September, remember.
October, all over.

Along the Atlantic east coast, the end of August to the middle of September, is hurricane season. That's when houses blow down in Florida, and heavy rains hit Pennsylvania. Admiral Howe might have had some clue to this, since Franklin made his observation around 1750, and storms are important to Admirals. But very likely his brother the General just thought it was one of those things when the British landing at Elkton, Maryland in late August 1777 was greeted with an unusually severe downpour of rain. Howe had planned to surprise Philadelphia from the rear by hitting the ground running on horseback. However, he underestimated the debilitating effect on the horses of three weeks at sea on sailboats; to unload and forage horses during a hurricane was almost too much for the plan. For that purpose, he had given orders for the troops to disembark without waiting to pitch camp, or unpacking their gear. But the drenching rain gave Washington several extra days to organize a defense, although he has been given too little credit for the strenuous accomplishment of moving an army from Bucks County to the banks of the Brandywine in that weather. Howe, whose trademark was surprise, deception, outflanking, had anticipated a sudden cavalry thrust into the backyards of unprepared Philadelphia. What he got was 2000 casualties in the biggest battle of the Revolutionary War, against Washington's well-prepared defense along the steep-sided Brandywine Creek.

Howe won this battle, in the sense that Washington was forced to withdraw, because Howe employed another British military trademark, of driving his own troops beyond humane limits in a huge outflanking movement. The countryside around Kennett Square is hilly and broken almost to West Chester, and the American Army felt reasonably prepared along a front of ten or twelve miles. But Howe drove the main force of his army seventeen miles to the north, to Dillworthtown, before turning the unprepared American right flank. And, in the now hot August weather in full uniform and battle pack, the drive continued for twenty-four consecutive hours until Washington saw he had to withdraw. This was what the British meant when they boasted of seasoned regular troops; you win by enduring more than your opponent can endure.

One has to have equal admiration for Washington. Although he was dislodged from his position, losing the opportunity to catch the British in a hostile region without a reliable source of supplies once the fleet weighed anchor, he preserved his army of marksmen and deer hunters intact during the retreat. The two armies started at roughly the same size, and Washington had only about 1300 casualties; his men had more certain supply sources, and they were fighting for their homes. The British, somewhat outnumbered, had the prospect of fighting their way without resupply through an enemy's home territory, capturing the enemy's capital, but still facing the possibility that the British fleet might not get past the Delaware River defenses. If that happened, they could celebrate their victory by starving to death. Just about the only weakness of the Continental Army was its discomfort with bayonet warfare. They could hit a squirrel at a hundred yards, but those long bayonets on the end of very long muskets were designed to protect foot soldiers from cavalry charges. It takes training to put the butt of the musket against a stone on the ground, hold your ground against an oncoming gallop of horsemen, and trust that at the last moment the horses will rear back and throw the riders. But it also takes naked bravado to wave a sword and ride full tilt into a forest of pointing bayonets, trusting that at the last moment the defenders will break and run.

But Washington knew what he was doing. He pulled the troops back to Chester, then over the Schuylkill to the Germantown encampment at Fox and Queen Lane, then up the Schuylkill to Norristown, the first ford in the river that Howe must use when the boats and bridges were destroyed. The river would hold the British while the Americans came at them from the rear; this was essentially the same river strategy he used at the battle of Trenton. Washington picked his battlefield in Chester County and got ready to fight the second installment of the Battle of Brandywine. The campus of Immaculata University now occupies the site.

And then it rained, again. Hard. The gunpowder on both sides was soaked, useless. In what has come to be known as the "Battle of the Clouds", the fighting was called off by mutual agreement. The second hurricane of the year had arrived, and Washington more or less helplessly had to watch Howe take over Philadelphia unopposed. He lost the capital, provoking dismay among the colonists, but his masterful strategy taught the British to respect him. When the British were later considering whether to hold or abandon Philadelphia, this growing respect for their adversary helped tilt their thinking toward prudence.

But that was not before Howe once more showed he too was not the lazy slacker that others had called him. General "Mad Anthony" Wayne was dispatched with fifteen hundred troops to hassle the rear of Howe's army. Wayne was confident he could hide his troops in the Radnor area where he had been brought up, but the region in fact had many Torys to report his movements. Howe ordered Major General Lord Charles Grey to take the flints from his troops' muskets, attack the American camp near Paoli's tavern in the night, and use only bayonets. Waynes' troops were scattered and slaughtered, in what came to be known as the Paoli massacre.

Franklin in Paris

{Benjamin Franklin}
Benjamin Franklin

Adlai Stevenson once observed that every diplomat must make a solemn pledge -- to drink for his country. Ambassadors represent their country to chiefs of state, and everybody involved must participate in constant social masquerades to ease the strain of dealing with people whose interests may conflict with his own. In fact, when some ambassador indelicately blurts out the truth, he can expect to be declared "persona non grata", and replaced.

There are plenty of reasons to suppose that Franklin disliked the French. On several occasions, he had rallied public opinion, raised troops and even served in the Colonial forces during the French and Indian War. As a leader of the Pennsylvania Assembly, he had to cope with the activities of the French in western Pennsylvania, stirring up Indian massacres of Pennsylvania settlers. He very nearly lost his financial shirt helping General Braddock obtain horses and wagons, and surely had numerous acquaintances in the British Army slaughtered at Fort Duquesne. England was at war with France for years, and right up to 1774, Franklin spent most of his energies trying to bring the Colonies into tighter unity with the British throne. The purpose of such a union was primarily to ensure the protection of the Colonies against the French. The goal was always to ensure the protection of the Colonies against the French.

Having spent seventy years building up defenses against the French bogeymen, Franklin's about-face had been abrupt. Right up to the moment of confrontation with Wedderburn in the cockpit of Whitehall, Franklin had been struggling with the English to make America a full part of Great Britain, searching for an acceptable formula for taxing America for its own defense -- against the French and Spanish. After his public humiliation and a brief interval of contemplation, Franklin went home to join the Second Continental Congress, spending only a few months there to bring Revolution to a tipping point. Having succeeded largely because of his assurance that he could get the French to become allies, he promptly returned to Paris to make good on his assurances. Maybe he was a secret French-lover all that time, and maybe his expedition to Paris was just a ruse to let him enjoy a ten-year Parisian vacation. But the utter implausibility of that suspicion is exposed merely by voicing it. Furthermore, he had spent many years at the British Court on his quest to take Pennsylvania from the Penn family and give it back to the King, therein receiving a full education in the wiles and deceits of diplomatic life. He knew what to do, how to dress, how to talk, and what to disassemble as a negotiator. He had seen many diplomats fail in their missions and had a chance to observe what it took for others to succeed. He was forty years older than almost anyone he met, world famous before most of them were born.

So the late Harvey Sicherman, Philadelphia's local State Department alumnus, was almost surely right when he described Franklin as a spinner. He may have grown to like some particular Frenchmen and Frenchwomen, and he certainly enjoyed himself hugely. But to say he loved France is a stretch, while to say he hated most things which are uniquely French is not totally improbable. More likely, he was indifferent to all that, because he was there to do a job. His job description was to make himself charming, attractive, and persuasive to as many influential Frenchmen as he could find. And to wait for any diplomatic opportunities which George Washington might create on some distant battlefield.

When he first arrived in Paris, the military situation back home was bleak. The British had just defeated Washington on Long Island, the expedition against Canada had been a failure. For ten months, Franklin had to keep the American vision alive in Paris without evidence of military success at home. When Washington finally defeated the British at Trenton and Princeton, and particularly when Burgoyne was routed at Saratoga, Franklin pounced. Those victories were exaggerated suitably and celebrated wildly throughout all the social circles which Franklin had charmed for the previous year. Scientific and intellectual leaders, salon society, and even many members of the royal court were on his Rolodex, so to speak. They were useful levers of gossip and news to spread his reports in a suitable way. Paris was full of spinners, spies, and manipulators, but Franklin the old publisher knew how to dominate the news.

Even his famous love affairs could be viewed as having their purpose. Madam Brillon was forty years younger than Franklin, one of the most beautiful and musically talented women of the age. No doubt it was pleasure itself to charm this charmer, and no doubt his advanced age caused her husband to drop his guard. But Franklin knew very well what a stir it would make for a famous man his age to be linked in speculative gossip to a thirty-two-year-old celebrated beauty. That he could have made this conquest in spite of old age, gout, kidney stones and a very rudimentary knowledge of French, was deliciously worth talking about in naughty circles. And then one never knows. The widow Madam Helvetius was the only woman to receive his marriage proposal--and she turned him down. In a time of war, surrounded by spies and assassins, it would always be a good thing to have local friends who might warn him, hide him or help with an escape.

Franklin's association with
{http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/helvetius2.jpg}
Madame Helvetius

Madame Helvetius was much the same in many ways, or at least John Adams thought so, but there are some major differences. In fact, if you discount the parts that offended Adams as largely dissembled, the Helvetius episode may have been the most truly significant relationship of Franklin's life. She was widowed, much closer to him in age, much more his equal in wit and attainment, and he actually proposed marriage to her. She refused him, for reasons we are not in a position to assess, but a marriage between an Austrian relative of Marie Antoinette to an elderly frontiersman might well have seemed too far a social stretch. Furthermore, there seems to be an important connection between the intellectual circle of revolutionaries who clustered with her and her former husband, and the impending French Revolution. The mother of LaRochfoucauld also ran a salon for the same group, attended by LaFayette and others who turned up in America during our revolution, and who associated with others whose names would in time sound like a recital of the leaders of the French Revolution. Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were both active with this group of rebels whose history goes back to the reign of Louis XIV. Jefferson was obviously influenced by them, Franklin's intellect was so much more powerful that it is possible influence ran the other way. The thought has occurred to others that Franklin may have been mainly responsible for two revolutions, not just one. Even two centuries later, feelings run so high that the truth of the matter is unclear. From the point of view of Franklin's diplomatic triumphs, the existence and power of this group of French conspirators both raise a question of just who was using whom. And whose goals were ultimately served.

In any event, Franklin was quick to turn the Battle of Saratoga into a decision by France to become an open ally of the colonists, and the Battle of Yorktown into the Treaty of Paris granting independence to America. During all the years in between, Franklin was wheedling money and munitions secretly from the French, somehow using Haym Salomon to get the money out of France and Holland, around the British navy, and into the hands of the beleaguered Americans. As always happens, the money suffered some shrinkage in transit, for which many fingers were pointed at many reputations, including Franklin's.

Venturi's Franklin Museum in Franklin Court

{Franklin Court Museum}
Franklin Court Museum

When Judge Edwin O. Lewis was seized with the idea of making a national monument out of Colonial Philadelphia, he wanted it big. Forty or so years later, it's big all right, but not big enough to encompass the whole of America's most historic square mile. Government ownership in the form of a cross now extends five blocks north from Washington Square to Franklin Square, and four blocks East from Sixth to Second Streets. Restoration and historic display have spread considerably beyond that cross, however, and the Park Service has created ingenious walkways within the working city in the neighborhood. If you thread your way through these walkways, you can stroll for miles within the world of William Penn and Benjamin Franklin. One such unexpected walkway is now called Franklin Court, which essentially cuts from Market to Chestnut Streets, within the block bounded by 3rd and 4th Streets. Hidden in the center is the reconstructed ghost of Franklin's quite large house, sitting in an interior courtyard bounded by a colonial post office, and a newspaper office once operated by Franklin's grandson. And, along the side of the walkway near Chestnut Street, is a fascinating museum of Franklin's personal life, built by no less than Frank Venturi, and operated by Park Rangers in the polished but low-key manner for which the U.S. Park Service is famous.

For some reason, this jewel of a museum has not received the high-powered publicity it deserves. It's off the main Park premises, as we mentioned, and some of the problem has to be attributed to Venturi. As you walk through, you don't expect a huge museum to be there, and it can look pretty inconspicuous as you walk past because it is mostly underground. Take my word for it, it's worth a visit. There are long descending ramps inside the doors, which can be pretty daunting if you are elderly and tired. But, also inconspicuous, there's an elevator if you look around for it. Venturi didn't seem to like windows very much, which is a problem for some people.

There's a movie theater inside there, playing a long list of fascinating documentaries. There's an ingenious automated display of statuettes which utilize spotlights and revolving stages to present Franklin in Parliament, resisting the Stamp Act, Franklin being his charming self before the French monarchs, and the frail dying Franklin getting the Constitutional Convention to approve the document. There are also a variety of ingenious inventions of Franklin's on display in the original, including bifocal glasses, the first storage battery, a simplified clock, several library devices, the Franklin stove, and so on. In some ways, the highlight is the Armonica.

The Armonica is the musical instrument invented by Franklin, for which both Beethoven and Mozart composed special music to exploit its haunting tone. If you ask the nice Park Ranger, she will be flattered to play you a tune on it.

Franklin's Admirers on TV

{Brian Lamb}
Brian Lamb

There are now three channels of C-span, continuous cable television programs about the influence of history on current problems. Sessions of Congress and its committees, the speeches of the President, political campaigns, are shown as they happen. But interviews and book reviews are shown in parallel, with an opportunity to go into the archives and organize originally unrelated programs into seminars on a current topic. The editor, Brian Lamb, has a light hand and considerable impartiality. But he's there, all right, organizing blogs into topics just as Philadelphia Reflections tries to do.

{Friends Select School}
Friends Select School

This similarity of design had been floating around for some time, but it suddenly came into focus when I recognized myself in the front row of an audience on C-span, listening to Edmond S. Morgan talking at the Friends Select School about his new book on Benjamin Franklin, a few months earlier. Thank goodness I bought a book and had it autographed because the filming had been so unobtrusive I hadn't noticed it at the time. I clearly need to have haircuts more frequently. Professor Morgan's parting words that evening had stayed with me, "Franklin doesn't tell you everything about himself, but what he tells you -- is straight." That's quite a compliment from the editor of 47 volumes of Franklin's work.

{Walter Isaacson}
Walter Isaacson

Grouped with this tv portrayal of me as a groupie were interviews with Walter Isaacson and some other Franklin biographers, taken at other times and placing focus on other aspects. Here again, more insights emerged from quickly considered replies to audience questions than from the prepared speeches. Replies to questions from the audience are more in a class with blogs, anyway. Whenever you get all of the adjectives and qualifications polished, you sometimes don't say what you mean. Perhaps that last comment can be rearranged to say that answering audience questions occasionally leads to blurting out precisely what you mean.

And so, two unrelated audience answers need to be linked. A question about Franklin's love life caused Isaacson to refer to Franklin as a lifelong seducer. From the unknown mother of his illegitimate son William, to the simultaneous flirtations with two famous French ladies that took place when he was an octogenarian, and not overlooking several other affairs with Cathy Green and Polly Stevenson and allusions to others, Franklin was obviously an accomplished seducer in the full meaning of the term. It is thus legitimate to suspect the techniques of seduction at work in many of his public projects, from starting the Library Company to persuading the French to help the Revolution. He discovered late in life what many have discovered about the life of a diplomat, and quickly recognized that he was already pretty good at what that seemed to entail. Let's slide to a slightly different application of that idea.

{Benjamin Franklin and French Women}
Benjamin Franklin and French Women

By the accident of hostess seating arrangement, I found myself seated next to two historians from Harvard, and somehow it came out that one of them felt that Franklin loved the French. Simply loved them. Somehow that didn't sound quite right when compared with Franklin's early years of mobilizing Pennsylvania to fight the French, starting the first National Guard militia unit to defend Philadelphia against French raiders, supporting General Braddock's expedition with his own money, urging the British government to sweep the French from Canada, and working most of his life to assemble the colonies and Great Britain into one world-dominating entity. It's true that 18th Century France was at the peak of scientific achievement, and Franklin the inventor of electricity was quickly taken in by the European scientific community, but that's scarcely the same thing as loving France. Louis XVI was in fact quite annoyed by all the attention Franklin was receiving. And so the scholar on TV went on to say that correspondence had been discovered in which Franklin quite casually remarked that during the Continental Congress he had strongly argued that America should stand alone and have no European allies. Congress it seems overruled him, so he dutifully set sail for France to seduce them.

We come to another chance social encounter. On a recent trip to Paris, the GIC had taken along as a speaker, no less than a member of the Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve, a Governor of a Federal Reserve District, to speak about the threat of inflation and currency crisis. In time, our French hosts invited us to look at some documents of interest, like the Louisiana Purchase. Lying on the table was the original treaty between America and France, signed by B. Franklin. The Federal Reserve governor, making small talk, observed that Franklin sweet-talked the French into loaning America too much money, eventually leading to their bankruptcy. As I recall, my rejoinder was, "Well, just print some more paper money, right?" It was intended to be a jocular remark, but it somehow didn't seem to be taken as such.

After London, Ben Franklin Revisited

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George Goodwin

George Goodwin appears to have written the best book I ever read, in Benjamin Franklin in London, which that writer in residence of the Craven Street Franklin Museum. has just produced. At least I have never read a book which proceeded to explain so much I knew puzzled me. There have been hundreds of books about Benjamin Franklin, but all of them fall back on Franklin's Autobiography which while surely authoritative, often omits significant details. Goodwin, concentrating on the eighteen years Franklin spent abroad, had access to many unnoticed personal papers. It was also written while Franklin was in England, where many things did not appear to need an explanation to 18th Century Englishmen. And the autobiography was written for his son, who needed even less explanation. So it's a mistake to ascribe the autobiography's vagueness to deliberate deviousness, to say nothing of basing a whole theory of his personality on deviousness. Its hazy points now seem more attributable to his assuming his intended audience needed little explanation for what to us was seemingly left vague. And so as a first impression, Franklin himself emerges less deserving of his reputation for deceptiveness.

{Privateers}
Ben Franklin In London

It occurred to me as I read it, that national opinions will change so quickly, that the transitional opinions of people like me will soon be swept aside. I am no scholar, but have read twenty or so excellent books about Benjamin Franklin, and adopted a number of fixed ideas which I will have to change. Therefore, Goodwin's achievement is in danger of becoming lost in a stampede of permanently revised views. Goodwin himself may be oblivious to his own achievement, which was probably gathered slowly after poring over heaps of primary documents and living in a London world which needed less explaining to a Londoner. Heaven knows I am no Keats, but my place in all this can possibly aspire to his goals in the poem On First Looking into Chapman's Homer.

{Privateers}
Join or Die

In the first place, Franklin appears to have been a staunch British subject, at least from the Albany Conference of 1754 to as late as 1774. His dream, formulated at Albany and expressed in many forms later, was that of a combined British-American empire, with its headquarters eventually to be located in America. For the largest part of his life, his attitude was not that America should be independent of Britain. It was the two nations should unite even more closely, America would inevitably grow larger, and the British Empire would become a British World. After King George III unleashed Wedderburn to excoriate Franklin before the crowned heads of Whitehall, it all changed, of course, but it did so after a personal dispute with the King about lightning rods, where Franklin never doubted he was the world-acknowledged authority. In essence, Franklin was the inventor of electricity, but King George in effect responded, "Who do you think you are, a King?" Those weren't the words they used, but that was the sense of it. Or, considering what was at stake, the nonsense of it. Franklin had been challenged to destroy the British empire if he was so smart, and that is exactly what he set about to do.

{Privateers}
King George III

Without editorializing a word, Goodwin allows us to read a line Franklin wrote in 1773, that King George was "perhaps the only Chance America has for obtaining soon the Address she aims at."

Franklin was not without British allies. Lord Chatham, later Prime Minister, and Edmund Burke, author of "On Reconciliation With the Colonies" came very close to toppling the government over this issue. Even Lord Howe, Franklin's chess partner and brother of even-more-avid chess partner Lady Carolyn Howe, who was later designated to lead the British repression of the rebellion, is quoted as saying in 17XX, XXXXXXXX. Lord Howe's words are going to require some re-examination of his motives in the abandonment of Burgoyne against direct orders, and redirection of the fleet toward Philadelphia. Frankin's response, of course, was to use the victory to sign a treaty of alliance with France.

{Privateers}
William Pitt 1st Earl of Chatham

In victorious America, of course, Franklin was celebrated for flying a kite in a rainstorm, something every schoolboy knows is too dangerous to try. It was during his time in England that Franklin performed a series of experiments which invented electricity which every physicist would agree would today win him a Nobel Prize. It made him a friend of Mozart and Beethoven, Joseph Priestley and five kings. Goodwin even restores the tarnished reputation of Peggy Stevenson.

But it isn't all for the better. Goodwin tells us Franklin didn't invent bifocals, some British optometrist did. So he raises a question, for those who are looking for it, about how many of the other American "firsts" for which he is famous, were ideas he picked up in his first trip to London in 17XX, and transported to an America eager to have what was the latest and trendiest. There are probably other innuendoes in this eminently readable but essentially scholarly work. But I missed them, and a hundred graduate students will have to put the record straight.

Those Troublesome Lees of Virginia

{Richard Henry Lee}
Richard Henry Lee

SOMETHING useful can, of course, be learned from a man's friends, but descriptions given by his enemies are usually briefer. The Lee family of Westmoreland County Virginia were bitter enemies of Robert Morris the Financier of the Revolution, and they surely said some unfair things about him. Morris paid as little attention to the Lees as possible, but for generations, the Lees had been neighbors of the Washingtons, and so could not be completely brushed aside. Furthermore, they were close to the center of Thomas Jefferson's anti-Federalist party. So insights into the Lee family probably illuminate the main disputes before, during, and after the Revolution. They even illuminate the mixed character of George Washington, who was sometimes unusual by Virginia standards. Nevertheless, the Lees had the same quality of heedless idealism to be found in Samuel Adams of Massachusetts and Patrick Henry of Virginia which goes beyond the ability of two-feet-on-the-ground revolutionaries like Robert Morris and Benjamin Franklin to understand, or even abide; this conflict runs throughout the history of the American founding. It seemed to baffle even those who switched positions, like James Madison going in a leftish direction, and Thomas Paine, going toward the right. So, although reckless idealism cannot be an inborn character, it must quickly acquire very deep roots.

{Arthur Lee}
Arthur Lee

Arthur Lee and his brothers William and Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, were passionate rebels of the Patrick Henry ("Give me liberty or give me death") sort, intermittently reviving lifelong attacks on Robert Morris. Highborn Tidewater aristocrats, they were ancestors of Virginia's revered General Robert E. Lee. Arthur had even attended Eton College and later studied medicine in England. The Lee brothers started attacking Robert Morris well before his famous abstention from the critical 1776 vote on independence. It's much too easy to shrug the Lees off as landed aristocrats who disdained self-made men, or as passionate Jacobins who hated self-made rich people, or maybe just narrow-minded nuts. Out of their often inaccurate attacks emerges an outline of what a lot of other people thought about Robert Morris. Many of these polar mind-sets outline the main divisions of political strife in America right up to the present. For present purposes, let's try to understand why Morris might risk his substantial fortune in underground smuggling before the war, and then dedicate his huge energies to winning the war -- while at the same time, not only refuse to agree to the Declaration of Independence (he did finally sign it in August 1776), but speak out in public opposition to independence. What explains Morris' apparent double-talk?

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The explanation I choose to accept is that Robert Morris' real feelings were too sophisticated for this particular crisis, reaching clearer expression in his later activities promoting the Articles of Confederation and its revision the United States Constitution. A man given to terse one-liners, Morris said in December 1775 that he joined his fellow Americans in striving for "Constitutional Liberty" but could not join them in promoting independence.

Morris was never explicit about what would achieve Liberty without Independence; perhaps something like the independent Irish parliament which English Whigs then supported, or the Scottish local parliament which exists today, was in his mind. Both of them link a single King to a commonwealth. At the time, no one was interested in the political philosophy of a shipping merchant.

But today we are in a position to see no member nation of the British Commonwealth has a written constitution; written constitutions are a comparatively recent innovation and not necessarily an essential one. The American Constitution today continues to argue about original intent and living documents, so it is still possible to prefer the wisdom of a benign King to written constitutions. The British goal seems to be to infuse overarching principles of government so deeply into citizen minds that such principles overwhelm any written commandments, however vague all that may sound to outsiders who prefer to niggle over documents. Not in America, of course, because an immigrant nation like ours cannot grow cultural roots sufficiently deep in a few generations, and must have written rules. Great Britain's recent difficulties with immigrants from the Commonwealth may well reassert the limits of unwritten constitutions; constant questioning of the written American constitution by more recent immigrant groups may become a part of the British life, too.

The Articles of Confederation were written by the eminent lawyer John Dickinson, said to be the man closest to sharing Robert Morris' political philosophy. However, for five years the Articles were unratified, and Morris began to believe this lack of ratification was the reason the states were so resistant to taxation. So Dickinson gets credit for writing the Articles, but Morris must be seen as their father. Believing the lack of federal taxation was the main difficulty, and blaming the unratified Articles as the reason for it, our businessman man-of-action pushed them through. Unfortunately, with the Articles it didn't work because the taxation problem still remained, so Morris turned his immense energies toward replacing the Articles with something which would work. It does not twist American history a great deal to believe that Robert Morris, Jr. was one of the main driving forces behind both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of the United States. He was neither a lawyer nor a political scientist and therefore was quite indifferent to who got credit for the documents. As Ronald Reagan was to discover two centuries later, that's one of the best ways to get anything done.

Morris could read; he knew the Articles didn't endorse Federal taxation. But he was apparently convinced an unwritten constitution always contains the latitude to do what simply has to be done; anything else amounts to shooting yourself in the foot. After the Battle of Trenton, when Morris became President of the United States for three months in everything except name, he still blamed his troubles on the inability to levy taxes, which in turn was due to failure of the states to ratify those Articles. So sensible a man as John Dickinson would never assume overly strict interpretation was intended; obviously, a state must confiscate private property when otherwise it cannot survive. After five years of state inaction, Morris abruptly pushed the Articles through to ratification. But he was wrong, it didn't help. When he finally grasped that the explicit limitations on taxation were intentional, intended to override any implicit power in the Articles whatever, he promptly threw his weight behind John Jay, George Washington, and James Madison to support a new Constitutional Convention setting it right, especially the national government's ability to levy taxes. Since Washington had by then become his best friend, who actually lived next door in Morris' Market Street house for years, there is not much paper trail of this interaction between these old friends. Once he got his tax mandate at the Convention, however, Morris had hardly anything further to say. His frenetic later activity immediately after the Constitution was enacted can almost surely be attributed to lifelong habits of a negotiator, avoiding mention of anything which might distract from his main goal, in this case of ratifying the Congressional right to levy federal taxes, but not abandoning subordinate goals for a moment. What the Lees hated about Morris, therefore, cannot be easily explained, but certainly, one feature of it was his ability to hold his cards face-down. The Lees didn't hold their cards, they flourished them. In their eyes, no gentleman would do anything else.

The incidents of June 1776 place the Lees in a more favorable light if they are seen as urging instinctive decisions by popular mandate, essentially favoring an unwritten British Constitutional arrangement. The Lees believed the place of a gentleman was at the head of a troop, daring the rest to follow their lead. The British had blockaded Boston, passed the Prohibitory Acts, fought naval battles in the Delaware River in May of that year. A huge British fleet had landed in New York harbor, and the agitated colonists were about to declare war. At the very moment of crisis, that rich Philadelphia merchant had refused to vote for independence. The Virginia tobacco planters were dancing a war dance in a city known for its pacifist Quakers, while their neighbor George Washington was conducting an actual war with the British. It was then revealed that Robert Morris had been participating in a gunpowder smuggling operation known as the Secret Committee, and Morris had made considerable profits from it. While many of his friends defended Morris, it was pretty easy to go wild with indignation about trusting him to sit on a secret espionage committee, unwatched. The very least that could be done was to appoint Arthur Lee, already a member of the Continental Congress, to that Secret Committee to sound the alarm if anything looked funny. The ironic fact seems to be that Morris and the Lees were passionately committed to the same unwritten approach to government, primarily based on trust in personal character, otherwise defined as fidelity to an unwritten tribal code. If you are the right sort of person, you will be with us; if you are not with us, you must not be the right sort of person. Unfortunately, a nation of immigrants may not survive if it adopts too many such notions.

The Lees had expressed disruptive views of Morris in the past, but they were exactly the sort of clan likely to confront scoundrels whenever facts called for it, and sometimes even when they didn't. The underlying conflicts, fiercely advocating both a strong centralized government and a loose decentralized one but not defining either, continue to run through American politics until the present. Whether Morris ever acknowledged it or not, he ended up on the side of defined contracts, as opposed to a Code of Honor. But he spent his life as a man of his word because in business your word is your bond; if you are any good, you won't need to cheat. If our Tower of Compromises is to endure, its limits of such agreement must be few, but they must somehow be strictly understood.

Benjamin Franklin, Prophet

{Privateers}
Benjamin Franklin

Judged by his public and private writings, Franklin was a deist. That is, he believed God sort of wound up the Universe like a clock, then let it run by itself. Furthermore, the Constitution0 which he had a hand in writing, pretty clearly maintains a wide separation between church and state. Nevertheless, historians by the droves have identified a uniquely American culture, apparently based on some fiercely held convictions. We might just as well say America has a secular religion with prophets, and Benjamin Franklin was an early prophet. His enduring message for all time was: Honesty is the best policy.

By this he did not mean, as lawyers do, strict word precision, or as our military academies add, resolute avoidance of half-truths and double-talk. Ol' Ben never admitted who the mother of his illegitimate son was, and positively chortled at hoodwinking the Pennsylvania Assembly into matching private contributions for the nation's first hospital, which he secretly knew he already had in hand. Late in life, he set enduring standards for the American diplomatic service, which some have defined as a profession dedicated to lying for your Country. Not only was Franklin rather sly, he gleefully projected the image of slyness. In recent years, some historians have proposed his adventures with many women were just acting out a playful pose. Frankly, this suggestion is hard to accept.

{Privateers}
Poor Richard Almanack

The author of Poor Richard's Almanack, aged 26 at the first edition, was a young man totally consumed with advancing himself in the world; at that stage, he defined himself as a businessman. Like J. Pierpont Morgan, who could thunder "I will never do business with a man I don't trust", Franklin had one set of principles for business and another for love. Or, if you please, one set for men, and another for women, who were thought to play by their own set of rules. Historians have struggled with this paradox or hypocrisy, but it would have seemed strange even to comment on it in Franklin's era, and a conflict is not suggested in eighty volumes of his life writings. Lord Byron, another famous philanderer of the day, stated the matter delicately as "Man's love is to man's life a thing apart; 'this woman's whole existence." And that was just the way it was, in their view.

Franklin, who as an escaped apprentice might well have been punished like a felon in Boston, came to the big town to make his fortune, found himself ina culture of Quakers. Boston Puritans might well have punished him severely, or at least stood by approvingly while his brother beat the daylights out of him. The Dutch in New York were well known as rough customers; just to the south in Delaware, the inhabitants were to maintain a whipping post for two hundred more years. But in Philadelphia, non-violence was eventually carried to the extreme of confining miscreants to solitude until they spontaneously perceived it really was better to behave. Poor Richard's little motto about the best policy was in fact just the Golden Rule, applied to business. Even today, anyone starting a business soon finds a discouraging number of people ready to cheat the businessman; it was even truer in colonial America. Somehow, if you enter the business world, it is to be assumed you are ready to defend yourself. Competitors have little respect if you fail to conduct business warily; even less if you complain and wiper. Although many women have conducted successful businesses, it is so to speak a man's world. Little Benny Franklin, fresh off the boat from Boston, watched with amazement as Quaker merchants and vendors conducted trade on the assumption the counterparty was honest, refused to bargain an openly set price, and avoided violence when cheated. At the same time, Franklin could not fail to notice that Philadelphia was prospering much more rapidly than Boston. After a business trip to England, he could see that London worked at the same disadvantage as Boston. Honesty, it would appear, makes you rich; cheating may sometimes work, but fairness gets you ahead more steadily.

In later years, Franklin shared rooms with John Adams, who became positively livid at the suggestion a person should be honest for any other motive than to be taken into Heaven. It was degrading, even dishonest, to be honest in order to get rich. There is no evidence that Franklin's reaction to this sermon was anything but contempt for the other man's intelligence. Although probably not directly related to this exchange, Franklin's assessment of Adams was "always an honest man, often a wise one, but sometimes and in some things, absolutely out of his senses." Ben Franklin was born in Puritan Boston, fled from it as soon as he could, and thereafter seldom regarded Puritans as having two feet on the ground.

It thus emerges that Benjamin Franklin who was certainly no pacifist, greatly admired Quakers. On the one hand, in desperation he organized Pennsylvania's first militia when in 1730 the Quaker Pennsylvania government refused to act against French and Spanish marauders in Delaware Bay, and in 1752 took the lead again in assisting the British against Fort Deliquesce during the French and Indian War while Quakers resigned from government rather than defend the state. He even volunteered to go to London to lobby against the Penn family. None the less, Franklin was completely converted to Quaker principles of doing business, perceiving a deep underlying truth to them. Honesty, as suggested by the Golden Rule, or fair trade as they say in commerce, is the key to prosperity. Honesty is not just good advice for a young man, it is a principle which brings prosperity to a whole nation, while readily suggesting a clear simple explanation of why it should. Don't you want to be rich? Plenty of other people want to be rich.

Unfortunately, many kings, barons, confidence men, bullies, cheaters, and tough guys have also become rich. Generations of immigrants have come to our shores with the idea that life is a zero-sum game. The way to get money is to take it from someone else. The way to lose money is to give a sucker an even break. But gradually, one generation after another learns the truth, as enunciated by Poor Richard, that everybody is better off if almost everybody tries to be honest.

Surely it is not too much to say that American adventurism in the rest of the world reflects exasperation that the rest don't get the point. Certain parts of Europe, and all of the Mideast, really doubt it will work for them. The Far East does seem to grasp the rudiments, although with inscrutability and all it's hard to be certain. It isn't even true that all Americans get the point, but we have a containment policy for them, based on the fragile belief that here we outnumber the zero-summers. You must be firm, but you must also be fair. The crippled old Franklin hobbled out the door of Independence Hall after the Constitutional Convention. A woman calling to him asked what sort of government had been given us. "A republic," he answered. "If you can keep it."

Franklin on British American Relationships

{Edmond S. Morgan}
Edmond S. Morgan

Edmond S. Morgan spent an academic lifetime collecting and organizing the many volumes of what Benjamin Franklin wrote, and what he has been quoted as saying. Professor Morgan knows more than anyone else will ever know about what Franklin wrote down and signed his name to. Obviously, these records of a long and remarkable career are filled with instances of some of the very wisest, most penetrating observations about earth-shaking events. Although his writings are almost always charming and witty, succinct and penetrating, some of his proposals and comments about important matters could, however, be contradictory and sometimes half-baked. It's sometimes hard to admit that.

{Benjamin Franklin}
Benjamin Franklin

It's difficult to make entire sense of his attitude toward royalty, for example. For years during the time he represented the colonies at the Court, it would seem his vision of the future was that of multiple parliaments, held together by a common loyalty to the King. The concept is somewhat akin to the devolution movement now rumbling around the United Kingdom. It's hard to reconcile that proposal with some of the activities of George III that Franklin was in a position to watch, and it seems a little dubious for him to believe the major errors of the British government were to be mainly blamed on a handful of evil ministers misguiding the monarch. And harder still to reconcile this loyalty to the throne with his indifference or resistance to the American republic having a strong presidency at the later Constitutional Convention -- when his opinion might have made a major difference if it had been sensible. Some of these ideas may be remnants of poorly digested attitudes about the earlier English Civil War or reactions to the behavior of Cromwell. Franklin spent years watching the British Parliament in action and much time lobbying its members in proposed deals and arrangements. It's easy to see how he might have been disillusioned at times, but it's very hard to see the sense of his conclusion that the Parliament was an impediment to ideal relations between the sainted King and his obedient subjects. Since Franklin was not writing rebuttals to himself for saying contradictory things several years earlier, it is very hard to know what he really thought when you bring all these writings together; and unwise to be too certain what it tells us about Franklin.

{British Ministries Symbol}
British Ministries Symbol

There is one thread which weaves for many decades among Franklin's writings, probably coming close to reflecting a hardened, considered, position. As a young man, he could easily observe the American population and wealth growing much faster than growth in the mother country, projecting forward to the firm belief that America would in time eclipse England. Today we see this as common sense, but in the Eighteenth-century population growth was believed to be secondary to economic growth. Some of the seemingly selfish and detestable mercantile policies of the British ministries were based on a sincere belief in this incorrect view of population. Since Franklin saw it was wrong, it is regrettable that he failed to take the approach of discrediting the theory rather than assailing those who mistakenly believed in it.

Taken all together, his 1767 letter to Lord Kames seems to represent Franklin's core position. Closer political union based on equality would actually benefit Britain more than it would America by preserving for Britain an equal place in an empire that must soon be principally American. America had resources far outweighing what British Isles possessed. It was bound to "become a great country, populous and mighty; and will in less time than is generally conceived be able to shake off any Shackles that may be imposed on her, and perhaps place them on the Imposers. In the mean Time, every act of Oppression will sour their Tempers... and hasten their final Revolt."

We now see that as very perceptive, although events diverted matters in other directions for two centuries before returning to the essential truth. The Industrial Revolution was England's achievement before it became the world's. And the Industrial Revolution, not the American one, was central to the British conquests which positioned the Empire for far greater growth than Franklin could foretell. He thought America would overtake England in less than a century, but in fact, it took two centuries. This is one of those arguments where both sides are proven right, but at different times.

{Benjamin Franklin Discovers Electricity}
Benjamin Franklin Discovers Electricity

But while some other false starts about governmental design can perhaps be defended by signed correspondence at the time, they leave behind the embarrassing opinion that it was a good thing he occasionally got distracted by electricity experiments and flirtations with lady friends. And thus, sustained defeat of his silly 1752 proposal to displace the Pennsylvania Proprietorship with a Royal colony, and the equally ill-judged 1787 scheme to replace the American presidency with a debating club. Franklin was a statesman without equal, but no unedited lifetime correspondence can withstand scrutiny as a coherent political theory.

Addition to page 158 and others

Behind all this may be"The Leopard," which makes the point that Garibaldi was an exterminator, not a liberator, and first attracted the migrants to New Orleans before they suddenly learned about the Ku Klux Klan. Believing this version might assist moving the parade to a climate warmer than January usually provides, which it would take to induce me to return to future Mummers parades.

New blog--Skipping grades. My mother was a school teacher, and like all professions, school teachers take care of each other. Offhand, I don't know how tuba players take care of other tuba players, but I'm sure they do because it's a form of family tribalism which appears to be universal. I stumbled onto the school-skipping thing by being its unwitting beneficiary.

My mother was determined that I skip first grade for some reason still unknown to me, so she went into action back then, finding out all the rules for skipping a grade. It happened that the rules at my local school were more suitable for skipping half a year of kindergarten, plus a year of first grade, so that was what she went after. To accomplish this, one teacher was designated to screen the applicants, and so that particular teacher was targeted to become my mother's best friend. Somehow the two of them arranged the desired outcome while I was busy playing with wooden blocks somewhere else. Fifteen or so years later. public schools didn't suit my father, who wanted me to go to boarding school, so the problem became one of convincing someone else that a terrible mistake had been made in the records of my age, but it was just too late to fix it. Alternative solutions were proposed, but it was decided the simplest way to get it off his desk was to ignore it. Well, along came World War II and I was too young. Furthermore, I was pre-med.

So, a class of 1100 at Yale was quickly reduced to a couple hundred by Christmas, and I missed WW II entirely but was just right for the North Korean war. but as an officer. I realize that many contemporaries in Germany were swept into concentration camps by slightly different variations of the same happenstances, many Yale classmates were killed at the Battle of the Bulge, or even the Korean battles. But I was too young to do anything but watch the main agent, my mother, at work when I was in Kindergarten, and everything unfolded from that. I was lucky.

The Basis for a Revised Description of the Beginning of the American Revolution

The conventional description of the beginning of the American Revolution has it that the Americans started it. Taxation Without Representation was the slogan.

Philadelphia sees things a little differently. What about Independence? What about Ben Franklin in the cockpit at Whitehall? What about Admiral Howe's enormous fleet and the Proclamation? What were Franklin and Howe secretly meeting about?

Philadelphia Gardens

{Ernesta Drinker Ballard}
Ernesta Drinker Ballard

There are many show gardens, mainly on former large estates, scattered around the United States, and the ones on Southern plantations are quite famous.

However, the fact of gardening is that the climate has a lot to do with success. The really premier gardens of America are found in an East Coast strip from northern Virginia to southern Connecticut, with Philadelphia in the center of things. There is also a good-gardening area from Oregon to British Columbia, with a particularly notable garden in Vancouver, named after a sort of Philadelphian named Inazo Nitobe whose story is related in another blog. To have a really notable variation of exotic display plants, you need a lot of rain, a long cool spring, and a tradition of cultural association with the British Isles. Alkaline soils, generated by limestone, will produce a fine lilac display. Denmark would be a good place to go see that, but most of the show gardens in America are based on acid soils, with dogwood and azalea the predominant background coloration in May and June. A visitor from Michigan was once heard to ask what all the pink bushes were around Philadelphia, so it's likely the soil is not acid in Michigan. On the other hand, Korea is where wild azaleas originally came from, making the acid-soil hills crimson in the spring there. It should be noted in passing that Japan, Korea, and the Delaware Bay are on the same 40-degree latitude, but Japan escaped the loss of species caused by glaciers of the ice age.

Many of the Philadelphia suburbs have thousands of azalea bushes in each town, and hundreds if not thousands of pink and white dogwood, or purple Empress Trees, or magnolias. When you have a lot of those as background to start with, you are ready to begin planting a show garden. For that, we can largely thank John Bartram the botanist, one of the earliest Philadelphia settlers. The grounds of Friends Hospital are particularly notable for azalea display, and the Pennsylvania Hospital is pretty good, too. Although they are closer to Wilmington, the two most famous show gardens in the Philadelphia area are on DuPont properties, Winterthur, and

{Longwood Gardens}
Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens, They feed you pretty well in the associated restaurants there, and the bookstores and gift shops are truly outstanding. But what in many ways is the best show garden in Philadelphia is Chanticleer, the former estate of a family that founded what is now Merck Pharmaceuticals, located in the suburb of Wayne, across the street from where Tracy Lord, the heroine of The Philadelphia Story, lived on two square miles of the Main Line.

{Philadelphia Flower Show}
Philadelphia Flower Show

It's not clear why Chanticleer is such a well-kept secret, but it's sure worth the trip to see it at almost any season, May preferred. Interest in gardening is not limited to just a few big estates, it's a Philadelphia sport. Therefore it's not surprising to learn that the largest flower show in America is held in Philadelphia at Convention Hall in the Spring. If your feet aren't flat when you go in, they will surely be flat when you come out because a complete tour would be miles long, threading among the aisles. It's not easy to guess how much money each exhibitor spends on a display, but it's surely not a cheap hobby when you get to this level. If you notice the landscaping on public grounds in the city, it's always a fair guess that it was paid for by the profits generated by The Flower Show. Almost everybody has heard of the Burpee Seed Company, and Mr. Burpee summed up the prevailing attitude of Philadelphia gardeners: "If you want to be happy for a day -- get drunk. If you want to be happy for a week -- get married. But if you want to be happy for a lifetime -- get a garden."


REFERENCES


Gardens of Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley William Klein Jr. ISBN-10: 1566393132 Amazon

George Washington's View of the British Army

George Washington

TWO things about George Washington continue to puzzle us. Why would the rich, aristocratic Virginia gentleman become a revolutionary? And, how could he or his backwoodsmen soldiers even imagine they could defeat the British, the greatest military force in the world? The following letter, written to his mother after the defeat of Braddock's army, shows his viewpoint at the age of 23, putting the British regular army in a very bad light, indeed.

"HONORED MADAM: As I doubt not but you have heard of our defeat, and, perhaps, had it represented in a worse light, if possible than it deserves, I have taken this earliest opportunity to give you some account of the engagement as it happened, within ten miles of the French fort, on Wednesday the 9th instant.

"We marched to that place, without any considerable loss, having only now and then a straggler picked up by the French and scouting Indians. When we came there, we were attacked by a party of French and Indians, whose number, I am persuaded, did not exceed three hundred men; while ours consisted of about one thousand three hundred well-armed troops, chiefly regular soldiers, who were struck with such a panic that they behaved with more cowardice than it is possible to conceive. The officers behaved gallantly, in order to encourage their men, for which they suffered greatly, there being near sixty killed and wounded; a large proportion of the number we had.

"The Virginia troops showed a good deal of bravery and were nearly all killed; for I believe, out of three companies that were there, scarcely thirty men are left alive. Captain Peyrouny and all his officers down to a corporal were killed. Captain Polson had nearly as hard a fate, for only one of his was left. In short, the dastardly behavior of those they call regulars exposed all others, that were inclined to do their duty, to almost certain death; and, at last, in spite of all the efforts of the officers to the contrary, they ran, as sheep pursued by dogs, and it was impossible to rally them.

"The General was wounded, of which he died three days after. Sir Peter Halket was killed in the field, where died many other brave officers. I luckily escaped without a wound, though I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me. Captains Orme and Morris, two of the aids-de-camp, were wounded early in the engagement, which rendered the duty harder upon me, as I was the only person then left to distribute the General's orders, which I was scarcely able to do, as I was not half recovered from a violent illness, that had confined me to my bed and a wagon for above ten days. I am still in a weak and feeble condition, which induces me to halt here two or three days in the hope of recovering a little strength, to enable me to proceed homewards; from whence, I fear, I shall not be able to stir till toward September; so that I shall not have the pleasure of seeing you till then, unless it be in Fairfax... I am, honored Madam, your most dutiful son."

The March of Events

Two Ways of Looking at the Revolution

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Two Different Ways of Looking at the American Revolution.

If you are a resident of Boston, the American Revolution began on April 19, 1775, at Lexington and Concord for reasons having to do with smuggling and tea. If you live in Philadelphia, the chances are fairly good you believe the Revolution began on July 4, 1776, because Admiral Howe attacked us. What's this all about?

The colonies had fought the French and Indian War loyally together, with George Washington at Fort Necessity and Ben Franklin supplying wagons to General Braddock with his own money, against the hated French and their Indian allies, English colonists fighting off the enemy, side by side from 1754 to 1763, and traveling together to the Albany Conference in 1745. Ben Franklin drew the first newspaper cartoon, Join or Die, at that time, and first proposed an alliance of the thirteen English colonies with the homeland. The Quakers woulod probably still dominate Philadelphia, if they hadn't chosen religious consistency over the dictates of power. And yet a few years later the British were chasing gunpowder stores around the countryside. The British wanted the Americans to help pay the cost of their own defense, but we were all Englishmen, together, and everybody wants something for nothing. New Englanders wanted an arrangement like Ireland or union like the Scots. The slogan was representation, not independence. "No taxation without representation" for English-speaking colonists. Eventually, they hoped for parliamentary membership. They were mainly fighting against mercantilism and used taxation as a weapon to fend off taxes, while they continued to be proud Englishmen colonists. Franklin wanted a little more, moving the capitol to America because it was biggest, and he nursed this view until King insulted him in person,a few weeks or months before he grudgingly returned to America to help lead the Independence movement.

But this is the story of the forming of the Constitution, and in the fight to remain untaxed, English settlers got left behind and will be left to drift along. Got left behind by the Treaty of Westphalia. Everyone hates to be persuaded of something which hurts his self-interest, and Westphalia said the land became private property if the King had the exclusive right to adjust the borders, and by implication the local religion. That may have been useful in dealing with Indian lands, but in the sixteenth century, people took their religion pretty seriously. That was a serious matter, and it was made worse for Protestants as a consequence of Catholic activity in which Protestants played no role. Even worse, it was accepted by an English King who was German about whom Episcopal Englishmen had some reservations. And still worse was to see German Hessian soldiers about to do most of the fighting arriving in the troop transports, paid for by a German King, enforcing a law most of them didn't understand which had unexpected twists to it which sounded like the fight they ware already fighting about taxation without representation. Remember, Ben Franklin only had a second-grade education, and most of the colonists couldn't read and write. There were only a handful of lawyers in America, and most of them had a conflict of interest about this subject, which was cataclysmic in its sweeping implications.

The logic of the new German law which only a few lawyers could follow sounded like a trap. The lawyers back in England at the Inns of Court might explain it, but the essence was that rebellion was punishable by hanging, while Independence was settled by treaty. The colonists might not understand how they got into this fix, but the new legal situation created a much worse punishment for rebellion than for Independence, and hence a strong incentive to prefer Independence. Admiral Howe was only 90 miles away with dozens of warships and hundreds of troop transports, and the Continental Congress was in Philadelphia with the power to make a choice. The Germans had just experienced a large wave of immigration, more German soldiers were sitting in the transports, anxious to obey the orders of a German King, which started as a law passed by other Germans without a vote by any of the colonists affected, starting fight a war about taxation without representation, which hardly anyone had the education to understand.

It was, so to speak, a perfect storm. We came very close to losing that war, so after three centuries it is still true: Whether it was the League of Nations or the United Nations, or changing the Health System -- you have a hard time convincing the American public that it's a good idea to follow he decisions of non-American leaders. If the idea was foreign, and particularly if control is left in non-American hands it's going to be a hard job persuading Americans to vote for it.

england

FORCES AT WORK

Three Different Ways of Looking at the American Revolution.

If you are a resident of nearby Boston, the American Revolution began on April 19, 1775, at Lexington and Concord for reasons having to do with smuggling and tea. If you live near Philadelphia, the chances are fairly good you believe the Revolution began on July 4, 1776, because Admiral Howe attacked us. What's this all about? The colonies had fought the French and Indian War loyally together, with George Washington at Fort Necessity and Ben Franklin supplying wagons to General Braddock with his own money, against the hated French and their Indian allies, English colonists fighting off the enemy, side by side from 1754 to 1763, even back as far as traveling together to the Albany Conference in 1745. Ben Franklin drew the first newspaper cartoon, Join or Die, at that time, and first proposed an alliance of the thirteen English colonies with the homeland. The Quakers would probably still dominate Philadelphia, if they hadn't chosen religious consistency over the dictates of power. And yet a few years later the British were chasing gunpowder stores around the countryside. The British wanted the Americans to help pay the cost of their own defense, but we were all Englishmen, together, and everybody wants something for nothing. New Englanders wanted a negotiated arrangement like Ireland or union like the Scots; these were only technical details.The slogan aimed at representation, not independence. "No taxation without representation" for English-speaking colonists. Eventually, they hoped for parliamentary membership. They were mainly fighting against mercantilism using taxation as a weapon to fend off taxes while they remained English settlers. Franklin wanted a little more, moving the capitol to America because it was biggest, and he nursed this view until King insulted him in person,a few weeks or months before he grudgingly returned to America to help lead the Independence movement.

But this is the story of the forming of the Constitution, and in the fight to remain untaxed, English settlers got left behind and will be left to drift along. Got left behind by the Treaty of Westphalia. Everyone hates to be persuaded of something which hurts his self-interest, and Westphalia said the land became private property if the King had the exclusive right to adjust the borders, and by implication the local religion. That may have been useful in dealing with Indian lands, but in the sixteenth century, people took their religion pretty seriously. That was a serious matter, and it was made worse for Protestants as a consequence of Catholic activity in which Protestants played no role. Even worse, it was accepted by an English King who was German about whom Episcopal Englishmen had some reservations. And still worse was to see German Hessian soldiers about to do most of the fighting arriving in the troop transports, paid for by a German King, enforcing a law most of them didn't understand which had unexpected twists to it which sounded like the fight they ware already fighting about taxation without representation. Remember, Ben Franklin only had a second-grade education, and most of the colonists couldn't read and write. There were only a handful of lawyers in America, and most of them had a conflict of interest about this subject, which was cataclysmic in its sweeping implications. The logic of the new German law which only a few lawyers could follow sounded like a trap. The lawyers back in England at the Inns of Court might explain it, but the essence was that rebellion was punishable by hanging, while Independence was settled by treaty. The colonists might not understand how they got into this fix, but the new legal situation created a much worse punishment for rebellion than for Independence, and hence a strong incentive to prefer Independence. Admiral Howe was only 90 miles away with dozens of warships and hundreds of troop transports, and the Continental Congress was in Philadelphia with the power to make a choice. The Germans had just experienced a large wave of immigration, more German soldiers were sitting in the transports, anxious to obey the orders of a German King, which started as a law passed by other Germans without a vote by any of the colonists affected, starting fight a war about taxation without representation, which hardly anyone had the education to understand. It was, so to speak, a perfect storm. We came very close to losing that war, so after three centuries it is still true: Whether it was the League of Nations or the United Nations, or changing the Health System -- you have a hard time convincing the American public that it's a good idea to follow he decisions of non-American leaders. If the idea was foreign, and particularly if control is left in non-American hands it's going to be a hard job persuading Americans to vote for it. england

Andrew Hamilton (1676-1741)

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Philadelphia City Hall

An admirer of Philadelphia Reflections recently asked who is the most under-appreciated Philadelphian, and the quick answer would be William Penn. He's inadequately praised right at the present time, perhaps, but after all the whole State of Pennsylvania is named after him, along with countless universities and institutions, and his thirty-seven foot statue is on top of City Hall. The Pennsylvanian who seems most under-appreciated on a more or less permanent basis is Andrew Hamilton.

{Andrew Hamilton}
Andrew Hamilton

That is definitely not Alexander Hamilton, nearly a century younger and no relation. Andrew was born in Virginia but moved to Philadelphia in 1716, aged 30. He is frequently referred to as the finest lawyer of his era in America, holding numerous public offices. He was Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1735, and 59 years old, when he took on the task of defending John Peter Zenger the New York publisher. For this successful case, he is mainly known today, but it is not true at all that he was then a young unknown lawyer trying to establish a reputation as, the lawyers say, a rainmaker. Rather, he took up the task of defending Zenger in another colony, without fee, because he felt there existed a threat to the entire judicial system and someone had to assert leadership about it. Zenger was in conflict with the Governor of New York, evidently a ruthless sort of person, and the Governor had disbarred Zenger's two defense lawyers for opposing him. Hamilton felt it was the duty of an eminent lawyer from another colony to come forward and see that justice was defended. It was surely not immodest of him to feel that even a wild and wooly governor would not dare disbar the famous chief legislative officer of Pennsylvania. There was probably still some personal risk, and even some risk to professional reputation, because Zenger seemed clearly guilty of breaking the libel laws as they were then understood.

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Trial

Zenger had published articles describing the outrageous conduct of the Governor, and could not deny he had published them. In the common view, he had labeled the Governor. The judge refused to hear evidence that the published stories were true because the law stated that truth was not a defense. The only defense seemingly possible was that the stories somehow did not meet the definition of libel, and the judge suggested to Hamilton that he get on with arguing that particular escape-hatch. Hamilton, however, would have none of it.

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William Penn

His first statement in defense was that he and his client readily admitted the published articles met the definition of libel, so he would save the prosecutor's time presenting witnesses on the point. He turned to the jury and urged them to nullify any law which prevented injured people from making a truthful complaint, as William Penn had established they had a right to do, nearly a century earlier. In a sense, both Penn and Hamilton were going back to the Magna Charta, where a jury was seen able to set a limit on what any king could do to an Englishman. The judge intervened that a jury may do what they were instructed to do. Yes, said Hamilton, and they may do otherwise. Although the jury had surely never heard of such legal fine points, they didn't like the idea of punishing a man for telling the truth, and firmly declared that Peter Zenger was therefore not guilty of anything, including libel, for doing so.

These principles were destined to become embedded in the United States Constitution fifty years later and were greeted with great praise and published applause by Benjamin Franklin, then the young publisher of the largest newspaper in Pennsylvania. Evidently, Franklin and Hamilton sought each other out, and in time Franklin became the protege and main political associate of Hamilton in the Pennsylvania Legislature.

The Zenger case established the fame of Philadelphia lawyers for all time, and Hamilton is honored by the Philadelphia bar association as their patron saint. No doubt he welcomed the praise of his colleagues, but he certainly did not need it. He had already risen to the top before this case, and it was for that reason he took it on, not as a duty to Zenger, but as a duty to the Law. Like so many people who achieve a little eminence, he had everything to lose and nothing to gain by taking risks. But unlike a common lot of prominent people, he felt a duty to do what he had to do.

Details of the rest of Andrew Hamilton's life are surprisingly sketchy, but property records establish that he was remarkable in a lot of other ways, too. He purchased the land on which Independence Hall is situated, and gave it to the public. He purchased five hundred acres in the wilderness and founded the City of Lancaster on it. And he purchased two hundred fifty acres, later expanded to six hundred, on the high bank of the Schuylkill where European settlement had been first begun by the Dutch, at Gray's Ferry. His son built Woodlands as a country estate, established Woodland Cemetery along Woodland Avenue, and built Hamilton Village as the place in West Philadelphia where the Drexels, Weightmans, Pauls and other wealthy families put their mansions. If you like, you can stroll down the center of the University of Pennsylvania campus, on Hamilton Walk.

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Penn Railroad

Someday, the glory of all this will surely return. Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Railroad and successors have made the Gray's Ferry area nearly uninhabitable. Woodland sits behind a thicket of untended bramble, hidden from the trains except for the briefest glimpse if you know to look. The Veteran's Administration Hospital sits on the edge of Woodland, blocking the view unless you know to use Google Earth to see it sitting there begging to be visited. The University has turned its back on Woodland, using it mostly as a backdoor driveway toward its numerous parking garages, fearful the world might notice how close it is to deplorable slums.

ut some day, we can confidently expect that vision will re-emerge, the Schuylkill waterfront should resemble the Seine through Paris, linking Woodland to Bartram's Gardens, and perhaps on to Fort Mifflin. When that day dawns, maybe more people will also remember who Andrew Hamilton was.

Philadelphia Vaguely Hears About Bunker Hill

The thirteen English colonies were far apart in the Eighteenth century, communicated very little, regarded their religions as more or less hostile to each other. July 4, 1776, was indeed a major turning point, but Thomas Jefferson's role was mainly to write a defensive tract to convince the colonial population and the rest of the world that the colonies had little choice but to fight. It was mainly Benjamin Franklin who recognized they could not win without foreign support, and could not expect foreign (French) support if they appeared to be willing to rejoin the British Empire. In a single action, more or less on one day, the American Revolution was transformed from New England demanding a separate parliament within a Commonwealth, into thirteen colonies fighting for Independence from Great Britain. Such a war could not be won without Virginia, the largest and richest colony, or without Pennsylvania, physically uniting the other two power centers. Virginia had serious difficulties with the British concerning its tobacco trade and its local land ambitions. Essentially, the main holdout was Pennsylvania, whose main problem now was that it was a contented prosperous state, suddenly forced to make unwelcome choices. Without Franklin's presence, it is hard to guess how things would have turned out.

{Privateers}
Bunker Hill

To this day, Pennsylvania has trouble appreciating that things in Boston had gone too far for New England to turn back. The quarrels about English rule had gone on for decades, and the actual warfare had escalated over three years since the Tea Party, leading to thousands of casualties. Too many people had friends and relatives killed to suppress the urge for vengeance. The British king was now revealed as deeply involved in British politics and was not at all the benign father figure he had been portrayed. The British Army thought of itself as the mightiest war machine in the world and was not going to tolerate or soon forget a bloody defeat at Bunker Hill. The Prohibition Acts had been passed, the fleet had been assembled, the honor was at stake. The Quakers of Pennsylvania may have thought they had a choice, but they had little choice.

Battle of Saratoga

As a matter of fact, the British had little choice left, once the battle of Saratoga was over. With France convinced to join us (mainly by Franklin), the hope of suppressing the revolt by lack of colonist gunpowder and money was lost, and British public opinion grew progressively more opposed to warring against fellow Englishmen. Lord North seems to have realized this when he sent the Earl of Northumberland to Philadelphia to explore reconciliation, but the momentum of war forced him out of office. And the bloody revolution continued for five more years before the defeat at Yorktown forced an end to it.

The Battle of Bunker Hill probably had more effect than the questionable victory it supplied. The Americans had dragged the cannon from Ticonderoga up the mountain and they were placed on Boston's Dorchester Heights. The British saw them and rushed to get their fleet out of Boston, away from those cannon. But the Americans had no gunpowder, and Washington must have noticed you could beat the British by keeping your own nerve, even if they outnumbered you. And it wasn't the first time he saw the Brits run, he saw the same thing when he was with General Braddock.

C3..........The Clouds Darken 1763-1776

New England wanted to fight for Independence but they knew they were too small, so they tried to enlist twelve contiguous allies by logic, but the British attacked with almost overwhelming force before that happened. Just who remembered the Treaty of Westphalia is unclear, but it had the effect of unifying the contiguous colonies behind Independence. The most serious obstacles were the Quakers, who withdrew from politics in order to avoid a choice between national and domestic resistance.

C5..................The Revolutionary War in the Mid-Atlantic States 1776-1783

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Boundary Disputes Before 1776 : New Blog 2334 Set by King or his courts.: Blog 2334 ; Topic 703 :

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Four Corners of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania always had its best lawyer in William Penn. Until 1776, the boundaries between the American colonies were settled in London, either by the King or the British courts.: After 1787, disputes over boundaries were settled in the United States Federal Courts, acting under Section III brieflyof the Constitution. Generally speaking, boundaries were originally created by treaties, Kings, and briefly by Congress. Boundary disputes were then settled in the courts, first in England, and briefly in Federal Courts. Between 1776 and 1787, however, the Articles of Confederation governed. The immediate problem was that the Articles were not finally ratified until 1781. A technical problem was that surveying instruments were improving during this period. The judicial problem was that a body of law was evolving about when to use the deepest channel of a river or when to use the half-way point between the two banks of a river, and whether to use just one bank of the river or the other. The political problem was that major immigration made everyone less care-free about boundaries of the land which were steadily growing more valuable. The American period under the Articles of Confederation were just one big argument about state borders.

A century earlier, when British kings were handing out charters to those adventurous enough to accept them, there was plenty of cheap land if someone could defend it. The common approach to granting charters was to pick two points along the Atlantic, and from there to extend lines westward as far as they could go. When the lines bumped into lines given to other colonies, there were countless lawsuits and occasionally little wars.

Only the three Quaker colonies of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware were formed late enough in the colonial period to enjoy practical ways even to define a western border. Virginia, the largest colony, officially extended itself to include what is now Kentucky and West Virginia, and had reasonably defensible claims to all the land of the Northwest Territory, on the western side of the defined Pennsylvania western border, all the way north to the Great Lakes. When the Indians finally woke up to what was happening, they rebelled under the leadership of Pontiac and Tecumseh and were helped in their massacres of white settlers by the French, later by the British.

Peaceful rectangular Pennsylvania experienced armed nibbles at each of its four corners; from Maryland in the southeast, Virginia in the southwest, Connecticut in the northeast. On its northwestern corner, Pennsylvania had the award of the Erie connection to the Great Lakes to settle an overlapping conflict between Connecticut and New York.

The Articles of Confederation, composed mostly with common defense against England in mind, were deliberately inadequate to govern disputes between allies within the revolters. Discovering remarkable subsidence of such disputes after the installation of the Constitution, this might well have become a major reason for replacing the Articles of Confederation if it had been foreseen. But that was scarcely the case. The American colonists simply had no idea the Union would make such disputes immediately seem trivial if still remaining fairly numerous. When the advantages of peaceful unification are considered by other nations on other continents, consideration really should highlight the sense of delight America felt at the discovery of this unexpected bounty. At a minimum, it helped us ignore the many fumbles we also experienced.

William B. Willcox, the editor of volume 22 of Yale's collected works of Benjamin Franklin, prefaces that 706-page book about Franklin's pre-Revolution activities with a long essay of his own. In it he attributes Franklin's frenzy to his early perception that war with England was inevitable, while it is equally arguable that failure to mention it (and land speculation) was due to the secrecy he learned as Grand Master of the Masons. Certainly George Washington was a Mason, Mozart was a Mason, and Franklin frequently used this wide and powerful association to advance his friendships with people far above a printer's social status. And yet neither mentions freemasonry. The index to this collected work about it, although 47 pages long, makes no mention of Masons (or related phrasings), in spite of Grand Master Franklin's portrait hanging next to the portrait of Washington in the Masonic Temple of Philadelphia. Franklin's strange silence may well prove the insignificance of the matter, while freemasonry might just as well be regarded as proof of exaggerated secrecy, and the undeniable land wealth of his estate as proof of land speculation. "Poor Richard" indeed. He died one of the richest landholders in America. To cite a later editor who says, "Franklin is always straight in what he says, he just doesn't tell us everything".

A Gleam in Washington's Eye

{Privateers}
George Washington Taking Oath

On the eve of the Constitutional Convention, the nation was unhappy, confused, and dissatisfied; this wasn't what a victory was supposed to feel like. George Washington wanted a country to be proud of, big enough to discourage enemies, otherwise free of policing, regulation, or monarchy. Eight years of war had taught him it wasn't easy to have both liberty and discipline at the same time. Perhaps America was more unusually blessed, however, defended from invasion by oceans and wilderness, and from greed by a continent of natural resources. If order and justice could be organized, perhaps this by itself would enlist the loyalty of that mixture of classes and nationalities then flocking to our shores. Several important writers were having a strong influence on the era we now call the Enlightenment; David Hume and Adam Smith in Scotland, Edward Gibbon in England, Voltaire and Diderot in France, even Catherine the Great of Russia, with a thousand others including Benjamin Franklin and Robert Morris. Although Washington probably hadn't read them, Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations showed unvarnished new ways of looking at commerce and politics, while Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire showed what could happen if idealism gets neglected. Both books were published in the portentous year of 1776, describing many difficulties, but always suggesting problems could somehow be solved. There were plenty of ideas in circulation, but there was no plan.

It must have become obvious to Washington well before the Battle of Yorktown, that the Revolutionary War would not leave us with our problems solved. There was one brief moment as the British Army was withdrawing from Philadelphia in 1778 which seemingly justified boasts our troops had licked 'em. Just after the surrender of a whole British Army at the Battle of Saratoga, the British were also retreating from Philadelphia, and the Lord North offered generous peace terms through the Earl of Carlisle. No doubt the British public was restless after the Burgoyne defeat and the French alliance with America. Because the Carlisle episode is much more familiar in England than in America, perhaps it was a feint or a maneuver to embarrass the Earl of Carlisle or possibly just an exploration of the true state of affairs which were rumored about across a wide ocean. At any event, Gouverneur Morris was the visible American actor in this puzzling episode, but he must have been acting in concert with others. Lord North offered to give us our own elected parliament within a commonwealth; taxation with representation, no less. Morris seems to have dismissed this offer with contempt. But six more years of devastation ensued, surely convincing Washington that bitter defeat was still possible. That reality was concealed behind the graciousness of the French in allowing us to claim American troops had defeated the British at Yorktown. In fact, the preponderance of troop casualties, naval vessels and strategy had been French. The money had been mostly French as well. If that debt nearly bankrupted France, what might it have done to America?

Washington had been an outstanding athlete, soldier, and farmer, but his many travels about the colonies convinced him something more than leadership was needed. You just can't defeat a powerful enemy with short enlistments which give soldiers a legal right to go home on the eve of battle, and no way for the central command to extend the enlistments. To this, Robert Morris added that you can't buy gunpowder without the central power to levy taxes to pay for them. Morris warned him more was needed than a confederation so big others would leave it alone. Even temporary power wasn't enough. National disorganization had been just as bad after the Revolution as before. By 1787, Washington concluded the states just would not surrender power to a central national government unless the people forced them to give it up, and after a brief patriotic fervor, the people mostly wanted to go home for spring plowing. Peacetime also demonstrated another discouraging truth: meaningful improvement of the existing order meant the whole previous leadership class might leave public service to less qualified leaders, watching peace attract mediocrity to political office. Prominent men in the community gathered in a Constitutional Convention recognized the advantages of Union and devising peaceful ways to maintain it. After that transient moment when the memory of the war was fresh, politics could return to the mediocrities of a political class. That's not exactly what is now meant by "We, the People", but it might have to serve. In Washington's view, the voice of the people usually echoed along the lines of Tell us what good it would do to upset the Articles of Confederation, otherwise leave them alone. If you propose the general shape of a new central government, first tell us what it can do better than the states. And then show us how to make dubious state politicians agree to it. The accents of hesitation and defeat echo powerfully.

The hideous French Revolution was soon to demonstrate how unwise it was to look for short-cuts; we need a republic, not a stampeded democracy. George Washington was unsure just what was needed, but he knew a few basic things with certainty. America needed a bargain which everyone was expected to keep. A stronger central government should be provided for, and make it difficult to dissolve.

Rebel Hill

The Schuylkill River, hence Schuylkill Expressway and also Amtrak, all take a big bend westward about ten miles from Philadelphia. They are making a detour around a big hill or minor mountain, tending to position the sun in the eyes of many commuters at certain hours of the day. Real estate developers are apparently responsible for naming the place Rebel Hill, and it's getting pretty crowded with houses. The Rebel they had in mind was George Washington.

Rebel Hill

The father of our country was in retreat from the battle of Germantown, having crossed the river at Matson's Ford, then following Matsonford Road over and beyond the big hill, and pausing for water at the spring in the gulch formed by Gulch Creek, now more decorously called Gulph Creek. The creek tumbles down the side of a long ridge forming the south side of the Great Valley; the gulch or gulf is really a crevasse in that ridge, which in a sense makes Rebel Hill just a split-off extension of that ridge. Consequently, the gulch makes a water-level route from the Schuylkill to Valley Forge, which anyone would take to get there in a hurry. Valley Forge is a misleading term; it's a hill in the middle of the Great Valley, as the center of an angel food cake tin, and was thus defensible in all directions. The cleft in the southern ridge is where you would normally travel to get to the base of the bastion of Valley Forge.

{Privateers}
Old Gulph Road

So, everyone still takes that route, following Montgomery Avenue after it turns into South Gulph Road, but before it turns into North Gulph Road. The road up along the southern ridge is called Old Gulph Road, while the newer extension from the river is called New Gulph Road. All of these winding roads are compressed within the narrow defile beside Gulph Creek, reachable by splashing through the fords in the creek, although that is discouraged after ice forms in the winter. And, yes, a new road has come in at a restored old farmhouse, called New Gulph Road. The restoration has created a fancy restaurant, which somehow forgets that at the time we are talking about, it was the headquarters of (Major) Aaron Burr. The giant highway cloverleaf ahead on South Gulph Road tends to obscure the fact that it was the direct road to Valley Forge, now further obscured by lots of shopping center. If you persist and keep a lookout for the street signs, you will eventually get to the Memorial Arch, log cabins and National Park Service facilities of Valley Forge.

{Privateers}
Valley Forge

Back in the gulch, however, is the spring where Washington's troops refreshed their canteens. Just beyond it is a great big rock, much mentioned in memoirs of the episode. Around 1950, the highway engineers decided to blast this rock out of the way of widening a road that badly needs widening. The Daughters of the American Revolution saved the day. Creating a giant fuss, the DAR succeeded in limiting the engineers to chiseling the bottom of the rock away. A gentleman in his eighties recently remarked he had driven past that rock thousands of times, and always wondered what it was there for. Now he knows.

Robert Morris: Businessman Father of the Bureaucracy

{Robert Morris}
Robert Morris

UNDER the Articles of Confederation, America had a President who presided, but there was no executive branch for him to do anything administrative. The day to day business of the nation was conducted by committees of Congress, who mainly contracted out the actual work. Evidently, Robert Morris, the businessman had observed this system with displeasure, because it only took him a few days to replace it with departmental employees, reporting to him. The affairs of the nation were evidently in such disarray that there is scarcely any recorded resistance to this astonishing re-arrangement, probably viewed as only one of a series of brisk actions by this foremost businessman of the nation, acting in an emergency and to some extent using his own money. Furthermore, the immediate administrative improvement was apparently so obvious to everyone that the system continued after Morris left office, and was absorbed into the 1787 Constitution without much-recorded debate. Without dissent, as we say, the bureaucracy had been created. As the press of business steadily increased the bureaucracy, from a handful of employees to many millions of them, the fourth branch of government was created without any Constitutional mission statement, not one single word. Following directions set by early America's preeminent no-nonsense businessman, control of the bureaucracy was placed within the Executive branch, in time largely located within the District of Columbia, and governed by rules made by the Civil Service Commission. Sometimes this fourth and largest branch of government skirts dangerously close to encouraging insubordination to their politically appointed superiors.

For some reason, the State Department is particularly suspected of such "Yes, Minister" behavior. Increasingly, government subcontractors are relied upon ("privatization"), as the growth of public sector workforces a return to the subcontractor approach of two centuries earlier; such subcontractors increasingly find the bureaucracy assumes the role of the second Board of Directors. And for the same reason as before: the work of the central government keeps increasing. At a state and local level, an uncomfortable amount of political funding can be traced to utilities and other corporations who have been awarded legal monopolies, uncomfortably like the mercantilism which our colonist ancestors had found so repugnant to deal with. In the 21st Century, we are finally approaching the point where we can foresee the number of people working for some level of government becoming greater than the number of voting citizens, and therefore able to control their income and the nature of their work. When the bureaucracy begins to exert political election power over its elected superiors, elected politicians are almost certain to rebel at what they will surely see as going a step too far. However, on the topic of salary and work environment, they are likely to become allies. Public discontent is already echoed in the growing political movement to limit or shrink the size of government; it would be well to examine and pilot test alternative options before this one gets us into trouble.

In retrospect, this was one of many features of creating the three branches of government where broader implications went unnoticed in 1787. The British government had three branches, King, Parliament, and Judiciary. To create a government consisting of a President, a Congress, and a Judiciary did not then seem like much of a departure. However, the Revolution deposed the King and made the people sovereign. When the real implications of that breezy slogan had to be translated into legislative language serious implications emerged, unexpected then, and now hard to change.

A Pennsylvania Farmer in Delaware: John Dickenson

{over Air Force Base}
John Dickinson

It is difficult to have a coherent view of the mind of John Dickinson. Seriously offended by the Townshend Acts, he rightly perceived them to be the work of a few malignant personalities in British high places who would mostly soon be replaced. Later on, he refused to be troubled by the inconsequential Tea Act, which he appraised as a face-saving gesture of reconciliation, but more recent historical information demonstrates was more likely aimed at avoiding an unrelated vote of no-confidence in Parliament. Unfortunately, Dickinson was too remote from these events and additionally could not comprehend reckless hotheads among his own neighbors. Reckless hotheads in turn seldom comprehend the measured meekness of Quakers. In any event, although Dickinson played a major role in the Declaration of Independence, he refused to sign it when the time came, evidently sensing an opportunity to separate the three lower counties from Pennsylvania and its Proprietors. A few months later when the British actually invaded the new State of Delaware on the way to capturing Philadelphia by way of Chesapeake Bay, Dickinson enlisted as a common soldier and fought at the Battle of Brandywine. Obviously, he was seriously conflicted.

{John Dickinson's Farmhouse}
John Dickinson's Farmhouse

Dickinson had become internationally famous for twelve letters he had meant to publish anonymously. The Letters From a Pennsylvania Farmer were written about 1768 out of resistance to the Townshend Acts. Because the three counties which were to become the State of Delaware were then still part of Pennsylvania, many school children have become understandably confused about the actual location of the man who became governor of both states, simultaneously.

The causes of the separation of the two colonies are still a little vague. Delaware schoolchildren are taught the two states separated, but often report they didn't retain much information about why it happened. The Dutch and Swedes who originally settled southern Delaware were not sympathetic with Quaker rule, which could be seen as a reaction to their living here for generations as Dutchmen before William Penn arrived, but then saw the colony sold out from under them. As a further conjecture, there might have been friction with the Quakers over slavery, similar to the hostility of other Dutch settlers in northern New Jersey when William Penn purchased that area. This pro-slavery attitude resurfaced in both areas during the Civil War. One alternative theory which has considerable currency in Delaware is local dissension about Quaker pacifism during the Revolutionary War. On a recent visit to Dickinson's home outside Dover, a school teacher was overheard to instruct his flock that the Dutch Delawarians wanted to fight the British King, but the Quakers wouldn't give them guns. "We value peace above our own safety," was the unsatisfying response they received from the Pennsylvania Assembly. But that line of reasoning bumps up against Dickinson's role in local affairs, his ambiguity over the Declaration, and his vacillation in warfare. One would suppose the simultaneous Governor of both states would play a major role in the separation of the two.

{over Air Force Base}
over Air Force Base

Dickinson's plantation, quite elaborately restored and displayed, is tucked behind the Dover Air Force Base. Perhaps all that aircraft noise will discourage sub-development in the area of Dickinson's plantation and the rural atmosphere may persist for years. At the time of the Cuban missile crisis, your correspondent happened to be driving past, observing the sky filled with bombers, just circling and circling until the diplomats settled matters. Since eight-engine bombers are seldom seen around Dover, it has always been my presumption that they came from elsewhere to be refueled at Dover; but that's just a presumption. One of the pilots later told me he was carrying nuclear "eggs" and was completely prepared to take a long trip to deliver them.

To get back to Dickinson's wavering about the Declaration, maybe there was a good reason to waver. Joseph J. Ellis (in His Excellency, George Washington) relates that after the devastating British defeat at the Battle of Saratoga, Lord North made an offer to settle the war on American terms. In a proposal patterned after the concepts of the separatists in Ireland, America could have its own parliament as long as it maintained trade relationships with England. As an opening offer, that comes pretty close to what the colonists had been demanding. Governor Morris was active in disdaining this offer, although it is unclear whether he was acting alone or as the agent of others. The offer came too late to be accepted, but it might have shortened the war by six years, and we might now have a picture of the Queen on our postage stamps.


REFERENCES


His Excellency: George Washington: Joseph J. Ellis: ISBN-13: 978-1400032532 Amazon
Letters From A Farmer In Pennsylvania To The Inhabitants Of The British Colonies (1903): John Dickinson: ISBN-13: 978-1163969533 Amazon

John Woolman Reports on Yearly Meeting, 1758

{John Woolman House}
John Woolman House

"In this yearly-meeting (1758) several weighty matters were considered; and, toward the last, that in relation to dealing with persons who purchase slaves. . . .

"Many faithful brethren labored with great firmness, and the love of truth, in a good degree, prevailed. Several Friends who had Negro's expressed their desire that a rule might be made to deal with such Friends as offenders who bought slaves in future. To this, it was answered, that the root of this evil would never be effectually struck at until a thorough search was made into the circumstances of such Friends who kept Negro's, with respect to the righteousness of their motives in keeping them, that impartial justice might be administered throughout. Several Friends expressed their desire that a visit might be made to such Friends who kept slaves, and many Friends said that they believed liberty was the Negro's' right; to which, at length, no opposition was made publicly. A minute was made, more full on that subject than any heretofore, and the names of several Friends entered, who were free to join in a visit to such who kept slaves. "

The Richest Men in America

{Privateers}
Robert Morris

Charles Peterson developed the idea but was unsuccessful in popularizing it, that Spruce Street in central Philadelphia could be regarded as an architectural museum. It stretches from river to river but has no bridge or ferry landing at either end, so traffic is less. The earliest house still standing near the Delaware River was built in 1702, with successive houses just a little younger, or at least less old, as you progress toward Broad (14th) Street whose houses were built around 1880. And then onward into the early Twentieth Century, crossing Broad Street and going westward toward the Schuylkill. For a century or more West Spruce Street was where eminent specialists had offices, much like Harley Street in London, which it somewhat resembles. The medical flowering of this area was promoted by the surgical advancements of the nearby Civil War, as well as the contributions of Andrew Carnegie to moving the College of Physicians from 13th street to 21st Street, attracted toward the 7000-bed Civil War hospital which turned into Philadelphia General Hospital in West Philadelphia. A number of these houses are just plain too big to be manageable as single family houses today, and Spruce Street West has lagged Society Hill and other Easterly sections in restoring its buildings. Perhaps in a few decades, that will happen, and perhaps in the meantime, the present relics will be preserved enough to revive someday the idea of a house design museum. Meanwhile, West Philadelphia around Spruce Street has obstructed progression by plonking the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and the Science Center as obstacles to residential housing development.

So let's take a simpler idea. For roughly a century, the then-richest men in America lived in one of several houses located within seven blocks of each other, easy walking distance for a tour. The first to attract notice as a self-made rich man was Robert Morris. Morris made his money in shipping, maybe even a little privateering, and then went into banking to keep his money at work. It is said that his personal fortune, adjusted for changes in the currency and economy, was once considerably larger than Bill Gates' would be today, adjusted for inflation. As most people know, Morris financed the American Revolution personally, went broke, ending up in debtor's prison. The first real mansion he lived in was opposite Independence Hall on Market Street, now celebrated as George Washington's while he was the first president. It was earlier the place where British Admiral Gates lived while he was in charge of the 1788 British occupation, and although it was also where Washington lived during most of his presidency, the house burned down in 1832. This house is not to be confused with either the house built for Washington at 9th and Market but never occupied by him or Morris's later mansions which he also never occupied because of financial difficulties. One house in the midst of Jeweler's Row was so ornate some think it contributed heavily to his later bankruptcy. A second Morris house still stands on Eighth Street at St. James Street, but it belonged to the Quaker Morris family, no relation. Other owners named Morris bought and occupied this place for a number of years, so its history is a little mixed up, presently as a fancy restaurant. A DuPont heiress once bought and fixed it up, but her husband commented no one could sleep in that house because a subway built underneath it badly rattled its timbers. Next door to the Quaker Morris house rises a fifty story apartment house, whereas a precaution against rattles, the first nine stories contain nothing but parking spaces. Since the apartment building is owned by Arabs, it is likely they are pretty rich but not necessarily richer than Bill Gates. Aside from the Market Street partial restoration, the main Robert Morris remnant is on Lemon Hill, northwardly opposite the Art Museum, whereas the main Quaker Morris house is in the Morris Arboretum in Chestnut Hill. There are sixty or so Morris's listed in the Social Directory, so keeping the two families distinct remains a difficulty in some circles.

{William Bingham}
William Bingham

On the Northeast corner of Third and Spruce Street, once lived William Bingham, a former partner of Morris and later himself the richest man in America. Although sadly the house burned down, it is displayed in one of the famous prints by William Birch in his notable Eighteenth Century collection , widely available in bookstores. The striking thing about Bingham was that he was only twenty-eight years old when he achieved richest-man status and built the house, patterned after one owned by a British Duke. He made his pile three times over. First, running a privateer operation in the Caribbean for his partner Robert Morris. On returning home, he bought up any worthless Continental currency he could stuff into barrels, and then either persuaded his friend Alexander Hamilton to redeem the currency at par or heard his plan to do so. And then, as if he didn't have enough money already, he invested enough gold bars to finance the Louisiana Purchase for Jefferson, since Napoleon wanted gold, please, no paper money. Among the various things he bought as an investment was the area in upstate New York, now called Binghamton. He lost a pile of money buying the land we now call the State of Maine since post-revolutionary Westward migration turned toward Ohio rather than into his Maine holdings once the British prohibition on colonizing past the Allegheny mountains was lifted. Bingham's sister-in-law wanted to become engaged to the heir of the Crown of France, who was living in temporary exile around the corner on Walnut Street. In a famous, possibly fictional, response, the Dauphin was told, No. If you do not become the King of France, you will be no match for her "The Golden Voyage". Quite a good read, and of particular interest to Philadelphia lawyers who learn Bingham died in 1804, but his estate was not settled until 1960. The lawyer who closed the case reported his partners were less than pleased to see it go.

{Stephen Girard}
Stephen Girard

Stephen Girard built several houses a few steps west of Bingham on Spruce Street, identifiable by having marble facing on their lower few feet; Charles Peterson lived in one of them as the first pioneer resident of the Society Hill revival. Girard made his money in the China trade, as a ship's factor. Like Morris, he recognized America's crying need for banking in a story too complicated to repeat here and moved the Girard Bank into the First Bank of America, now a museum (Peale portraits, architectural fragments) of the Park Service on Third Street. His wife was insane, and spent most of her life at the Pennsylvania Hospital at Eight and Spruce, and was eventually buried there. Girard left thirty million dollars to found the Girard College for "poor, white, orphan boys". His 1830 will withstood all legal attacks until the mid-Twentieth Century but was eventually broken. The school now has many black girls, is bankrupt, and the definition of orphan has expanded to include any child whose parents are separated. The definition of "poor" is several times greater than the national definition of the poverty level. In his will, Girard specified that the estate should purchase what is now Schuylkill County and hold it for a century. Shortly thereafter (or just possibly very shortly before that), coal was discovered in the region and Girard College became far richer. His correspondence includes many letters to Lafitte the Pirate, so more may be heard of them.

{Nichlos Biddle}
Nichlos Biddle

Nicholas Biddle had "old money", which he made in the traditional way of buying real estate, particularly in Ohio. He thus made a better guess than Bingham about the likely path of westward migration. But like Morris and Girard, he needed a bank to finance the real estate. Biddle also acted as the reserve bank for the myriads of currencies then issued by individual rural banks and charged a transaction fee to translate Kentucky money into something useful in Philadelphia or abroad. Martin Van Buren, who was the political manipulator behind Andrew Jackson and who became Andrew Jackson's eventual successor, stirred up trouble about this reserve role, and Jackson "broke" Biddle's bank by withdrawing federal deposits. Jackson's complaint was that holding federal "paper" eventually resulted in a government guarantee the bank could never fail, in an echo of the present accusation of some banks being "too big to fail". Ultimately, investment banking began to take its modern formwhen in 1838, the richest man, Anthony J. Drexel, moved over the Schuylkill River on Walnut Street, amidst what is now the University of Pennsylvania, but not far from Drexel University. He walked to work each day, however, at 4th and Chestnut Streets. Drexel was the first big banker to make his fortune in banking, and when he died it was said Philadelphia banking died with him. The earlier big bankers started out with money they had made in shipping or land speculation, but Drexel somehow saw that banking was a different way to get rich, deftly filling in the gap created by Andrew Jackson shuttering Nicholas Biddle's Second Bank. Part of the idea in Van Buren's mind was to shift the focus of American banking from Philadelphia's Chestnut Street to New York's Wall Street, and he was quickly quite successful. J.P. Morgan was invited by Drexel to start a Wall Street partnership with him in correspondence with his father, Junius Morgan, who ran an international bank in London. In the era just after the Civil War, there was a great deal of money in Europe anxious to be invested in the railroads and other booming American industries. The Morgans provided a vehicle for transferring such investment capital between continents, but the Morgans were viewed as having excessively sharp practices. As it happened, Junius Morgan had been trained in this transoceanic concept by George Peabody, a former Baltimore resident who had moved to London, then, the banking capital of the world.

George Peabody earlier had also been involved with Anthony J. Drexel, and Drexel was the more successful of the two international bankers. The whole issue with European investors was whether you could trust those wild and wooly Americans, and Drexel consistently demonstrated he was entitled to be called a straight arrow. As related by a good book by Dan Rottenberg Drexel decided he needed the vigor of the Morgans and invited them to join him in a New York-Philadelphia partnership. From that point forward, JP Morgan was the shining star of honesty and straight dealing, a lesson he evidently learned from Drexel. Indeed, he and his biographers repeatedly stress this feature of him -- "I will never do business with a man I don't trust". He didn't mention women, but his behavior seems to show he probably didn't include them in the concept. Drexel, on the other hand, led a quiet sober life in West Philadelphia, reading books, starting his university, and helping his niece, who was later made a Saint in the Catholic Church, start numerous charities. Although the Drexel children more or less drifted out of sight, Drexel's business successor Stotesbury led a wild and extravagant lifestyle that is the subject of many songs and stories. His wife, for example, never washed the sheets; she always had brand new ones put on the bed. Morgan, of course, spent lots of money in a conspicuous way. The term Metropolitan identifies most of his projects, The Metropolitan Art Museum, The Metropolitan Opera, The Metropolitan Club on Fifth Avenue, with membership originally limited to his partners. The name Corsair also was a trademark, the name of his yachts, and a firm statement about his approach to things. Another difference between the Morgans and the Drexels was similarly in the New York-Philadelphia character. When Jack Morgan, the son of JP, died in the 1930's he left an estate of "only" three million dollars. It would be hard to say what the Drexel fortune was worth at that time, but it is safe to say it would dwarf that, considerably. Most of the Drexel family moved to London, but among other things, financed the restoration of the Benjamin Franklin House on Craven Street, a hundred feet from Trafalgar Square. When the House of Drexel was much blamed for the 1987 stock market crash, legions of Drexel defenders rose to protect the family name. Cabrini College, Eastern University, Valley Forge Military College, St. David's golf course and much of Radnor are only pieces of the Drexel holdings, today.

Book Review: The Abandonment of the West by Michael Kimmage

A State Department official works for his boss the President, even though he may secretly disagree. He can work inside the Department to change the policy but seldom lets it show to outsiders. I read 300 pages of such balance about the reasonings from McKinley to Trump, without deciding how he came down personally, until the conclusion. When he finally told the reader what he proposed, he stood out as a brilliant, very opinionated history professor from Catholic University. He shows why he differed with the various Popes. Yet here and there were scattered some persuasive Catholic viewpoints. Aside from revealing Presidential policies from the empire-building of Teddy Roosevelt to the pacifism of Jimmy Carter, he must be an entertaining Professor of History and a very informative one.

You can read the first three hundred pages as a balanced recital of the views of changing State Department positions during the past century.

Or you can read the last thirty pages as a reasoned position on the coming election. Or you can do both, as I recommend you do, no matter what your party position may be.

The Nation's Capitol

George Washington had been trained as a surveyor, created a rather handsome house in Mt. Vernon,

Thomas Ustick Walter

and had the new capital city, both located near his home and named after him. It is clear that ideas for the design of the new city and its major public buildings were brought to him for approval, and very likely adjusted themselves to his stated preferences. In the dedication ceremony, just about every political figure, dressed in Masonic costume, was lined up in two lines, which parted to allow Washington in full Masonic regalia to march majestically forward to lay the cornerstone with proper Masonic rites. Let there never be any doubt that it was his capital, in his capital.

Charles Bulfinch

The man who actually drew up the original design and oversaw the construction was Charles Bulfinch of Boston. The Bulfinch style was clearly evident by comparison with the rather bulbous dome which echoed the "Ether Dome" of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Both domes were made of wood, and the invading British army of the War of 1812 made short work of the Congressional dome. Most of the more detailed work of the building is attributed to Benjamin Latrobe in Philadelphia, and much of the classical style reflected the classical style favored by Jefferson, and much promoted by William Strickland, a Philadelphia trainee of Latrobe. The genius of total re-design along modern lines was the work of one of Strickland's Philadelphia trainees, Thomas Ustick Walter.

The capital

The Capitol Building

was too small, inadequately Roman Classic, and had an unacceptably burnable wooden dome, which was also too small. If the building was to be enlarged to its necessary size, the Bulfinch dome would be far too small, looking from afar like a Turkish pimple on a massive Roman auditorium. Walter proposed a technical solution: build the dome of cast iron. Transforming the North and South wings into mere galleries leading to much more massive Senate and House chambers, the whole building grew to usable size. All of this work nearly came to a stop in the Civil War, but Lincoln made the decision that the symbolism of continuing on was more usefully dramatic than the quibbles of distracting from the war effort. No doubt it was pointed out that all of that unfinished ironwork might rust uncontrollably if the war dragged on for several years.

Philadelphia City Hall

Walter liked to think big. He wore his long hair like a prophet in the wilderness and is reported to be somewhat difficult to get along with. His commission for Girard College was by far the most expensive architectural effort up to that time. Philadelphia City Hall, which he did not live to see completed, was intended to be the tallest building in the world. It would have been, too, expect delays due to political corruption allowed other buildings to get a few feet taller.

The Origins of Haddonfield

{Haddonfield's Dragon}
Haddonfield's Dragon

Haddonfield, New Jersey is named after Elizabeth Haddon, a teenaged Quaker girl who came alone to the proprietorship of West Jersey in 1701 to look after some land which her father had bought from William Penn. Geographically, the land was on what later came to be called the Cooper River, and it must have been a scary place among the woods and Indians for a single girl to set up housekeeping. It was related in the "Tales of a Wayside Inn" that Elizabeth proposed to another young Quaker named John Estaugh. Because no children resulted, she sent to her sister in Ireland to send one of her kids, a girl who proved unsatisfactory. So the kid was sent back, and Ebenezer Hopkins was sent in her place. Thus we have Hopkins pond, and lots of Hopkins in the neighborhood ever since. Eventually, the first dinosaur skeleton was discovered in the blue clay around Hopkins Pond, and now can be seen in the American Museum of Natural History, so you know for sure that Haddonfield is an old place. Eventually, the Kings Highway was built from Philadelphia to New York (actually Salem to Burlington at first) and it crosses the Cooper Creek near the old firehouse in Haddonfield, which claims to house the oldest volunteer fire company in America, but not without some argument about what was first, what is continuous, and therefore what is oldest. Haddonfield is, in short, where the Kings Highway crosses the Cooper, about seven miles east of City Hall in Philadelphia. The presence of the Delaware River in between makes a powerful difference since at exactly the same distance to the west of City Hall, is the crowded shopping and transportation hub at 69th and Market Street. Fifty years ago, Haddonfield was a little country town surrounded by pastures, and seventy years ago the streets were mostly unpaved. The isolation of Haddonfield was created by the river and was ended by the building of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in 1926. If you go way back to the Revolutionary War, the river created a military barrier, and many famous patriots like Marquis de Lafayette, Dolley Madison, Anthony Wayne and others met in comparative safety from the British in the Indian King Tavern. In a famous escapade, "Mad" Anthony Wayne drove some cattle from South Jersey around Haddonfield to the falls (rapids) at Trenton, and then over the back roads to Washington's encampment at Valley Forge. In retaliation, the British under Col John Simcoe rode into nearby Salem County and massacred the farmers at Hancock's Bridge who had provided the cattle. At another time, the Hessians were dispatched through Haddonfield to come upon the Delaware River fortifications at Red Bluff from the rear. Unfortunately for them, they encamped in Haddonfield overnight, and a runner took off through the woods to warn the rebels at Red Bank to turn their cannons around to ambush the attackers from the rear, who were therefore repulsed with great losses. These stories are told with great relish, but my mother in law found out some background truths. Seeking to join the Daughters of the Revolution in Haddonfield, she was privately told that the really preferable ladies' the club was the Colonial Dames. Quaker Haddonfield, you see, had been mostly Tory.

{Alfred Driscoll}
Alfred Driscoll

A local boy named Alfred Driscoll became Governor of New Jersey, but before he did that he was mayor of Haddonfield. He had gone to Princeton and wanted to know why Haddonfield couldn't look like Princeton. All it seemed to take was a few zoning ordinances, and today it might fairly be claimed that Haddonfield is at least as charming and beautiful as Princeton, maybe nicer. At the very least, it has less auto traffic. Al Driscoll went on to be CEO of a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical corporation, and everyone agrees he was the world's nicest guy. The other necessary component of beautiful colonial Haddonfield was a fierce old lady who was married to a lawyer. Any infraction of Al's zoning ordinances was met with an instant attack, legal, verbal, and physical. A street-side hot dog vendor set up his cart on Kings Highway at one time, and the lady came out and kicked it over. If you didn't think she meant business, there was always her lawyer husband to explain things to you. She probably carried things a little too far, and one resident was driven to the point of painting his whole house a brilliant lavender, just to demonstrate the concept of freedom. Now that she and her husband are gone, the town continues to be authentic and pretty, probably because dozens of other citizens stand quietly ready to employ some of her techniques if the need arises.

Overview: The American Flowering

{Pearls on the String}
Plymouth Rock

According to New Englanders, The American flowering began at Plymouth Rock, while it ends with the abandonment of Boston by the British, and replacement of the town's population by Colonial Americans, after the Battle of Bunker (Breeds) Hill.

This book gives the Pennsylvania version: It all started at Braddock PA with George Washington watching the famous Redcoats run for their lives, and ended in 1932 also in Pennsylvania, with the dashing of Philadelphia's dream of being the richest city in the world.

There's a dash of local patriotism in both versions, and both cities continue to fight the battles--politely.

 

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87 Blogs

THE ENGLISH SETTLEMENTS 1619-1776
At first, Europe rushed to settle the new world. King Henry the VIII started it for England, and his daughter Elizabeth pushed it along by piracy and other aggressive methods to steal it away from Spain and the Pope. By 1750 the adjustment between the home country and its colonist empire was coming to a confrontation. On a geographic level it was two cultures separated by 3000 miles of ocean. On an economic level it was Mercantilism versus the Frontier. But politicians dominated the scene of owners versus debtors, aristocrats versus vassals, owners versus slaves. Hardly anyone recognized that the Industrial Revolution was starting to sort things out. The English Settlements

Two Hotheads May Have Destroyed an Empire
Charles Townshend and William Bradford were separated by an ocean, and surely never met. But if any two people can be said to have deliberately provoked the American Revolution, these two must be considered.

William Allen, Tory
History is written by the victors, so the rich Tory William Allen is largely forgotten. But he was Chief Justice, probably the richest man in the colony, the son in law of Andrew Hamilton and the father in law of John Penn, the Proprietor, and Governor.

Federal Reserve: Monetary Causes of the American Revolutionary War
For the only time in our history, the government didn't print enough money, The British found that was just as bad as printing too much,

Franklin: Upstart Hero of King George's War (1747)
'King George's War' was two wars prior to the Revolution. Ben Franklin raised an army when the Quaker proprietors' wouldn't. The experience maybe gave him ideas.

Greenwich, Where?
A charming little colonial village in the Pine Woods of New Jersey has a long history, few visitors, and nothing reconstructed. It's the real thing.

The Economic Power of Laws
The power to tax is the power to destroy, and so is the power to regulate. But anarchy can also destroy.

Changing Taxing without Representation into Revolution for Independence: The British Prohibitory Act of 1775
This is the British Act which nominally started the Revolutionary War. The two Legislative bodies should have known better than to react in haste, but the British Parliament in London and its opponent the Continental Congress in Philadelphia -- started the Revolutionary War. Apparently Lord North issued the Prohibitory Act and Thomas Jefferson responded to it. But maybe a month on Eighteenth Century sailing vessels created a scholarly opportunity between two legislatures that should have been seeking a peaceful reconciliation. Whose idea was it?

Philadelphia in October, 1774
In his diary, John Adams tells of leaving Philadelphia at the conclusion of the First Continental Congress

The Failed Mid-Atlantic Subjugation, 1776-78
The war was not won by the British attack on the Philadelphia region, nor was it exactly lost there. George Washington resisted the British subjugation of the capital region until the British gave up and went away. In the process, General Howe occupied New York and destroyed the Quaker church in Philadelphia, forcing the defenders to retreat to Valley Forge, occupied the enemy capital of Philadelphia and won over its Tory element, and beat away its retreat across New Jersey to the battle of Monmouth, and finally escaped back to New York, as General Clinton replaced him. It took two years and it had a lot of success. But he lost, and George Washington survived. You have to admit the British gave it a serious try, and the alternative would have been to watch the three Quaker states burn to the ground.

Declaration of Independence: Jefferson's Response to Prohibitory Act
Jefferson's Declaration was a long and flowery response to a terse Monarch's notice that He was in charge. That is, the King brushed aside the attempt to separate him from Parliament, and mostly just replied to colonial effrontery with overwhelming force. The colonials were right to suppose Admiral Howe intended to burn all thirteen colonies to the ground.

Caesar Rodney Rides Through the Rain
When it looked as though Delaware was wavering on the Declaration of Independence, Caesar Rodney was summoned to ride through the rain to cast a deciding vote, in spite of advanced cancer of his jaw.

The Signers of the Declaration of Independence
{Signers of The Declaration of Independence}It was ratified by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. This anniversary is celebrated as Independence Day in the United States. The handwritten copy signed by the delegates to the Congress is on display in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. How many of these worthies were picked by Washington to invite to the Constitutional Convention?

What Happened in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776?
There were about 30,000 residents, just a small town, but it was the second largest city in the English-speaking world. Aside from wagons, there were thirty wheeled vehicles. But this is the town where decisions were made.

Pennsylvania: Browbeaten Into Joining a War
America declared Independence on July 4, 1776, but England had decided a year earlier to suppress the rebellion by overwhelming force and announced it six months later. France was then smuggling in gunpowder and guns. But Pacifist Pennsylvania held out until there was a British naval attack in the Delaware River, in May 1776, and a huge army had arrived at New Brunswick in June. The British wanted to confront us with a choice of surrender or subjugation. We picked the third choice the British never considered, to resist until they treated us better.

Book Review: Signing Their Lives Away by Denise Kiernan
The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence.

Mennonites: The Pennsylvania Swiss
Mennonite Pennsylvania Dutchmen actually came here from Switzerland. The book of their religious martyrs is more than a foot thick since they practice non-resistance, a belief significantly more pacifist than non-violence. Nevertheless, they prosper abundantly in Montgomery County.

La Fayette, We Are Here
LaFayette's first experience in charge of troops very nearly ended in his capture.

Perth Amboy to Trenton (2)
Lord Howe landed troops on Staten Island, and from there launched his first attack on Philadelphia by crossing the narrow waist of New Jersey.

Proclamation of Parliament: Ben Franklin's Role
Franklin doesn't tell you everything, but what he does tell you, is straight.

The Battle of Germantown: Oct. 3, 1777
As long as the Delaware River was blocked at Fort Mifflin, the British army may have won the Battle of the Brandywine, but it still had no supplies from the British fleet and was adrift in enemy territory. Washington thought there was still a chance to save Philadelphia, and attacked Howe at his headquarters in Germantown. However, his troops got lost in a heavy fog with two units firing on each other. Retreat to Valley Forge.

The Revolutionary Origins of The Methodist Church
The Wesley brothers converted so many Americans to the Anglican church, they couldn't ordain enough ministers. Reluctantly, Americans were allowed to ordain their own ministers. When the Revolution was over, they had drifted into a new Protestant denomination.

The Wyoming Massacre of July 3, 1778
As the dominant Indian Tribe in Eastern America, the Iroquois were ruthless in war. Whether egged on by the British or for their own reasons, in 1778 they remorselessly wiped out the Connecticut settlers around Wilkes-Barre.

Washington Lurks in Bucks County, Waiting for Howe to Make a Move
Washington, LaFayette, and twenty-seven other famous heroes of the Revolution spent a week in this Bucks County farmhouse, waiting for the British to make a move. Washington had a bottle of Madeira every day for lunch, but Mrs. Moland made him sleep on the floor, and pay for cleaning up when they left.

Museum of the American Revolution
The old Visitors Center at Third and Chestnut has been vacant for more than a decade. Its new occupant is going to be a Museum dedicated to the causes and sacrifices of the American Revolution.

Newburgh NY: Washington Slept Here
After the battle of Yorktown the British knew they were beaten, but still stationed a menacing army in New York. Upriver at Newburgh, Washington struggled to keep his own army from deserting.

Powel House, Huzzah!
On 3rd Street in Philadelphia's Society Hill, stands the finest surviving Georgian house of what Washington and Madison called the"Republican" Court. Washington hated all political parties, which at that time had quite a different meaning.

The Scotch-Irish In the Revolution
English Quakers and Rhineland Germans were eternally grateful to the British Monarch for offering them an American refuge. By contrast, the Scotch-Irish, although energetic frontiersmen, harbored lasting resentment against the English Kings who had driven them here.

Peggy Shippen and Benedict Arnold: Fallen Idols
The hero of the Battle of Saratoga married the Queen of Philadelphia society, but then betrayed the country.

The Final Capture of Philadelphia (6)
The British fleet dropped General Howe off at the head of the Chesapeake, planning to rejoin and resupply him by coming up Delaware. But for six weeks the British couldn't subdue Forts Mifflin and Mercer, either by land or by sea, and had a close call before they finally did.

The Houses in the Park
William Penn intended his city to stretch from river to river, with the gentry living in mansions along the Schuylkill. Briefly, it was so; the mansions are on display in Fairmount Park.

The Marriage of Figaro, Huzzah!
A recent performance of The Marriage of Figaro reminds us that it had strong Philadelphia beginnings which recent immigrants from other cities don't seem to know about.

The Silas Deane Affair

Robert Morris Invents American Banking
It's now hard to imagine getting along without banks, but Robert Morris had to invent the idea in 1780. Many people were horrified.

Signers of the Articles of Confederation
The signers of America's first constitution, the Articles of Confederation, are less well-known than those of the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence, but they are no less important to our history. Some basic demographic information about these men is presented below.

Richard Henry Lee: A Pennsylvania Viewpoint
Pennsylvania in 1776 was pacifist, prosperous, and slow to anger. Virginia was hot-headed and quick to anger. For some reason, Westmoreland County VA was the most extreme. Richard Henry Lee was their leader, and always the first to pound the table.

Disorderly Retreat: From Trenton Back to Perth Amboy
At the Battle of Trenton, George Washington established his military reputation for all time.

Market Street, East (3)
Philadelphia built a White House for George Washington at Ninth and Market, a block from the place Franklin once flew his kite.

Howe's Choice: To Philadelphia, or Saratoga?
The Howe brothers may have been socialites, and they had formerly been members of the Parliamentary party favorable to peace in the colonies. But they were also seasoned, smart soldiers who played hard and played to win. Washington proved to be their match, but he did have to prove it.

Perpetual?
If you get careless with your words, you may have to renounce them. The Articles of Confederation were stated to be perpetual, so maybe the Constitution is impertinent. Maybe someone would say it was treason.

Revolt of the Pennsylvania Line
After Yorktown, the American revolution seemed over, but peace negotiations dragged on, probably intentionally. The troops wanted to go home so badly they nearly lost the victory.

Robert Morris Has a Mid-Life Crisis
Robert Morris baffled everybody by abruptly abandoning his merchant career at the peak of his power. It remains a puzzling action, but somehow it displays American society's confusion as the Industrial Revolution confronted the last of the Enlightenment.

Robert Morris, Financial Virtuoso
Robert Morris had two episodes of being in charge of the American government, one before and the other after, the class warfare at Fort Wilson. In both cases, he displayed a virtuoso ability to innovate in a novel emergency.

Robert Morris, In Charge By Popular Demand
Franklin warned Morris: dictatorial powers in a crisis lead to a backlash, no matter how popular and necessary that arrangement may have first seemed.

Robert Morris, Land Speculator
Robert Morris devoted considerable thought to land speculation, long before he got involved in it.

John Head, His Book of Account, 1718-1753
The equivalent of the rosetta stone for colonial commerce had been sitting on George Vaux's shelf for six generations.

Sources of Revolutionary Populism
A major source of growing populism among the aristocratic founding fathers was the aging of rebel boys into Revolutionary Veterans.

Quaker Mary Dyer and Algernon Sydney
William Penn did not invent Quakerism, but he greatly refined it. Mary Dyer pulled Quakerism toward greater extremism. Algernon Sydney the lawyer pulled it toward a more orderly conservatism.

Prohibitory Act of the British Parliament
The Prohibitory Act of 1775 by the British parliament banned all manner of trade and commerce with the named thirteen colonies, provided for confiscation of any ships engaged in such commerce, and in a sense was a reply to John Dickinson's Olive Branch offer to make peace with the King but not Parliament. One gathers that John Adams had been expecting war with Great Britain all along, but Dickinson had not. King George III just got mad, and his staff allowed it.

Armonica, Momentarily Mesmerizing
{http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/glass-armonica.jpg}The harmonica was a musical instrument invented by Ben Franklin, who else. Beethoven and Mozart wrote music for it. It made people sick and may even have killed someone.

Perth Amboy Revisited
Perth Amboy was once the capital of New Jersey and the entry point of General Howe's invasion of the rebellious colonies. Except for one old building, you might never guess.

Parliament Provokes a Revolution
{http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/Magnacarta2.jpg}King George III personifies what angered the American colonists, but his Ministries acting through Parliament took the actual steps to agitate matters.

Poor Richard Plays Hardball 628 :
Franklin Declares Independence a Year Early
Franklin made no secret of his goal of national independence, at least a year before the Continental Congress voted and Thomas Jefferson composed his rather rambling declaration.

Philadelphia in '76
American RevolutionaryThere were about 30,000 residents, the size of a small town, but it was the second largest city in the English-speaking world. Aside from wagons, there were thirty wheeled vehicles.

Tom Paine: Rabble-Rousing Quaker? 692:: Blog 692:
Tom Paine is the one who mainly set the fires of revolution burning, and Franklin sent him here, got him a job, circulated his pamphlets. In spite of Franklin's sponsorship, Washington would cross the street to avoid Paine, and fellow Quakers would have no part of his violence. His later life showed him to be a rebel without a cause.

Battle of the Clouds: September, Remember
Benjamin Franklin, it should be noted, was the first to observe that Atlantic Coast "Nor'easters" actually begin in the South and work North, even though the wind seems to be blowing the other way.

Franklin in Paris
 Benjamin Franklin During the whole Revolutionary War, Franklin lived in Paris, quite obviously having a high old time. Ever since then, observers have argued whether he loved France or hated France; and whether his social life was merely a pose. But before that, he had spent 18 years in London. He was no longer a colonial rube, he was a London gentleman.

Venturi's Franklin Museum in Franklin Court
For several decades there has been a splendid museum of Franklin's personal life, hidden within the famous block where he once lived. Children love it. .

Franklin's Admirers on TV
The author finds himself on television, and wonders whether c-span is a variant of blogging. From that, we go on to question whether Franklin really liked the French.

After London, Ben Franklin Revisited

Those Troublesome Lees of Virginia
It's difficult for Pennsylvanians to understand why the Lee family of Virginia made so much trouble for our heroes, Robert Morris, Benjamin Franklin, Gouverneur Morris in particular. Perhaps it was a cultural clash.

Benjamin Franklin, Prophet
Ben Franklin was not exactly religious, but for one dominating American theme, Poor Richard is the prophet.

Franklin on British American Relationships
For one of the most remarkable men who ever lived, Benjamin Franklin, unfortunately, must be acknowledged to have jotted down some foolish and ill-considered things in his voluminous lifetime writings.

Addition to page 158 and others
page 158 .

The Basis for a Revised Description of the Beginning of the American Revolution
I fully recognize this is not the conventional account.

Philadelphia Gardens
Philadelphia loves its gardens, particularly boxwood and azalea.

George Washington's View of the British Army
Washington's escape from Braddock's defeat may help us understand his future low opinion of the British Army, and possibly suggests a reason for his hating them.

The March of Events

Two Ways of Looking at the Revolution

Two Different Ways of Looking at the American Revolution.

FORCES AT WORK
There are at least three different ways to describe the origins of the American Revolution.

Andrew Hamilton (1676-1741)
The original Philadelphia Lawyer, Andrew Hamilton gets confused with Alexander Hamilton, no relation. Judged from his life accomplishments, Andrew was one of the most influential people in pre-Revolutionary America. And associate of Benjamin Franklin.

Philadelphia Vaguely Hears About Bunker Hill
Massachusetts and Pennsylvania were far apart in 1775, both in distance and culturally. The Boston revolt was an underground conspiracy, aiming for New England home rule within the British Empire, but after two years and thousands of casualties, there was no turning back, and no hope of victory without the other English colonies. It was the British who jumped the gun and faced all thirteen colonies with a choice of subjugation or fighting for Independence.

C3..........The Clouds Darken 1763-1776
The French and Indian War was a colonial expression of the Thirty-year conflict between the French and British. The British wished the colonists would act like colonists, but the colonists wanted to be more than that. The British decided to put down this rebellion.

C5..................The Revolutionary War in the Mid-Atlantic States 1776-1783
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Boundary Disputes Before 1776 : New Blog 2334 Set by King or his courts.: Blog 2334 ; Topic 703 :
Before 1776, colony boundaries were set by King or his courts.: Blog 6.html: Blog 2334: Topic 701 :

A Gleam in Washington's Eye
Section 8 of Article I of the Constitution contains the enumerated powers of Congress, and Section 9 contains some prohibitions of Congressional power. Taken together, these "powers" constitute the arguments that a Union is superior to a Confederation. In the aggregate, they represent the reasons why we created a Union.

Rebel Hill
Everybody knows Washington's troops retreated to Valley Forge, but not everybody realizes how he got there.

Robert Morris: Businessman Father of the Bureaucracy
Only a few days after being appointed Financier, or acting President of the United States before the Constitution, Robert Morris swept away Congressional committees and replaced them with administrative employees.

A Pennsylvania Farmer in Delaware: John Dickenson
John Dickinson achieved national fame in 1773 by publishing twelve letters written earlier denouncing the Townshend Acts. They were published anonymously as Letters From a Pennsylvania Farmer. His farm, curiously, was in Delaware.

John Woolman Reports on Yearly Meeting, 1758
At a time when the whole world thought slavery was perfectly natural, John Woolman brought the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting to declare it must be abolished.

The Richest Men in America
In ten minutes, you can walk between the Society Hill homes of Robert Morris, William Bingham, Stephan Girard, and Nicholas Biddle.

Book Review: The Abandonment of the West by Michael Kimmage
This is an excellent book. Kimmage only spent two years working in the State Department, but spent thirteen years learning the viewpoints of his buddies. ends with some suggestions Kimmage for the future.

The Nation's Capitol
George Washington himself may have stated the vision of the Capitol building in the city named after him; Thomas Jefferson stated strong views. But the original building was designed by Bulfinch of Boston, rather like the Massachusetts General Hospital. After the War of 1812, a succession of Philadelphia Architects took over and made it what we know today. Benjamin Latrobe set things moving, then Thomas U. Walter reset the proportions under the influence of William Strickland. If Philadelphia was to lose the capital in a political deal, at least it could define the outcome.

The Origins of Haddonfield
Haddonfield was founded by a 19-year-old Quaker girl in 1701 when it was still a fairly dangerous place to walk around. She has over 140 direct descendants, and forty of them still live in the town. Some famous scenes from the Revolutionary War took place here.

Overview: The American Flowering
The American history is more than five hundred years old, so the American Revolution is only the half-way point, and the American flowering is only in the second half.